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HJ 



THE 



Two DESTINIES. 



BY 



WILKIE COLLINS, 

AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE," "MAN AND WIFE," "NO NAME," 
"THE LAW AND THE LADY," "THE NEW MAGDALEN," ETC. 




TORONTO : 
HUNTER, ROSE AND COMPANY. 

1876. 



Entered according to the Act of the Par- 
liament of Canada, in the year one thousand 
eight hundred and seventy-six, by WILKIE 
COLLINS, in the Office of the Minister of 
Agriculture. 



PRINTED AND BOUND BY 

HUNTBR, R08.E AND CO. 

TORONTO. 



CONTENTS. 



IN Two NARRATIVES. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

GREENWATER BROAD 10 

CHAPTER II. 
Two YOUNG HEARTS 15 

CHAPTER III. 

SWEDENBORG AND THE SlBYL 26 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE CURTAIN FALLS... 37 



CHAPTER V. 
TEN YEARS OF MY LIFE 40 

CHAPTER VI. 
TEN YEARS OF HER LIFE .. 50 



VI CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VII. 

PAGE 

THE WOMAN ON THE BRIDGE 58 

CHAPTER VIII. 
THE KINDRED SPIRITS 67 

CHAPTER IX. 

NATURAL AND SUPERNATURAL 80 

CHAPTER X. 
SAINT ANTHONY'S WELL 92 

CHAPTER XI. 
THE LETTER OF INTRODUCTION 102 

CHAPTER XII. 

THE DISASTERS OF MRS. VAN BRANDT 109 

CHAPTER XIII. 
NOT CURED YET . 119 

CHAPTER XIV. 

MRS. VAN BRANDT AT HOME 128 

CHAPTER XV. 
THE OBSTACLE BEATS ME . 138 

CHAPTER XVI. 
MY MOTHER'S DIARY 144 

CHAPTER XVII. 
SHETLAND HOSPITALITY 148 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
THE DARKENED ROOM... 157 



CONTENTS. vii 

CHAPTER XIX. 

PAGE 

THE CATS 166 

CHAPTER XX. 
THE GREEN FLAG 175 

CHAPTER XXI. 

SHE COMES BETWEEN Us 183 

CHAPTER XXII. 
SHE CLAIMS ME AGAIN 189 

CHAPTER XXIII. 
THE Kiss 198 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
IN THE SHADOW OF SAINT PAUL'S 211 

CHAPTER XXV. 

I KEEP MY APPOINTMENT 218 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
CONVERSATION WITH MY MOTHER 225 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

CONVERSATION WITH MRS. VAN BRANDT 229 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
LOVE AND MONEY 237 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

OUR DESTINIES PART Us 243 

CHAPTER XXX. 
A GLANCE BACKWARDS .. 248 



viil CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

PAGE 

Miss DUNROSS ............................................................... 253 

CHAPTER XXXII. 
THE PHYSICIAN'S OPINION ............................................... 263 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
A LAST LOOK AT GREENWATER BROAD ........ , ..................... 272 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 
A VISION OF THE NIGHT ................................................ 279 

CHAPTER XXXV. 
BY LAND AND SEA ......................................................... 284 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 
UNDER THE WINDOW ............................................. ......... 289 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 
LOVE AND PRIDE ........................................................... 298 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 
THE Two DESTINIES ........................................................ 309 



THE WIFE WRITES, AND CLOSES THE STORY ................ .. ...... 323 



THE TWO DESTINIES. 



IN TWO NARRATIVES. 

[The Guest writes the History of the Dinner Party.] 

k ANY years have passed since my wife and I 
left the United States to pay our first visit to 
England. 

We were provided with letters of introduc- 
tion, as a matter of course. Among them, 
there was a letter which had been written for 
us by my wife's brother. It presented us to an English gen- 
tleman who held a high rank on the list of his old and valued 
friends. 

" You will become acquainted with Mr. George Germaine," 
my brother-in-law said when we took leave of him, <{ at a very 
interesting period of his life. My last news of him tells me 
that he is just married. I know nothing of the lady, or of the 
circumstances under which my friend first met with her. But 




The Two Destinies. 



of this I am certain : married or single, George Germaine will 
give you^and your wife a hearty welcome to England, for my 
sake." 

The day after our arrival in London, we left our letter of 
introduction at the house of Mr. Germaine. 

The next morning we went to see a favourite object of 
American interest, in the metropolis of England the Tower 
of London. The citizens of the United States find this relic 
of the good old times of great use in raising their national 
estimate of the value of Republican Institutions. On getting 
back to the hotel, the cards of Mr. and Mrs. Germaine told 
us that they had already returned our visit. The same evening 
we received an invitation to dine with the newly- married couple. 
It was enclosed in a little note from Mrs. Germaine to my wife, 
warning us that we were not to expect to meet a large party. 
" It is the first dinner we give, on our return from our wed- 
ding-tour " (the lady wrote) ; " and you will only be intro- 
duced to a few of my husband's old friends." 

In America, and (as I hear) on the continent of Europe 
also, when your host invites you to dine at a given hour, you 
pay him the compliment of arriving punctually at his house. 
In England alone, the incomprehensible and discourteous cus- 
tom prevails of keeping the host and the dinner waiting for 
half an hour or more without any assignable reason, and 
without any better excuse than the purely formal apology that 
is implied in the words, " Sorry to be late." 

Arriving at the appointed time at the house of Mr. and 
Mrs. Germaine, we had every reason to congratulate ourselves 
on the ignorant punctuality which had brought us into the 
drawing-room half an hour in advance of the other guests. 



The Prelude. 



In the first place, there was so much heartiness, and so little 
ceremony, in the welcome accorded to us that we almost fancied 
ourselves back in our own country. In the second place, both 
husband and wife interested us, the moment we set eyes upon 
them. The lady, especially, although she was not strictly- 
speaking a beautiful woman, quite fascinated us. There was an 
artless charm in her face and manner, a simple grace in all her 
movements, a low delicious melody in her voice, which we 
Americans felt to be simply irresistible. And then it was so 
plain (and so pleasant) to see that here at least was a happy 
marriage ! Here were two people who had all their dearest 
hopes, wishes, and sympathies in common who looked, if I 
may risk the expression, born to be man and wife. By the 
time when the fashionable delay of the half hour had expired, 
we were talking together as familiarly and as confidentially 
as if we had been, all four of us, old friends. 

Eight o'clock struck ; and the first of the English guests 
appeared. 

Having forgotten this gentleman's name, I must beg leave , 
to distinguish him by means of a letter of the alphabet. Let 
me call him Mr. A. When he entered the room alone, our 
host and hostess both started, and both looked surprised. Ap- 
parently, they expected him to be accompanied by some other 
person. Mr. Germaine put a curious question to his friend. 

" Where is your wife ? " he asked. 

Mr. A. answered for the absent lady by a neat little apology, 
expressed in these words : 

" She has got a bad cold. She is very sorry. She begs me 
to make her excuses." 

He had just time to deliver his message before another un- 



The Two Destinies. 



accompanied gentleman appeared. Reverting to the letters of 
the alphabet, let me call him Mr. B. Once more I noticed 
that our host and hostess started when they saw him enter the 
room, alone. And, rather to my surprise, I heard Mr. 
Germaine put his curious question again to the new guest. 
" Where is your wife ? " 

The answer with slight variations was Mr. A.'s neat 
little apology, repeated by Mr. B. 

" I am very sorry. Mrs. B. has got a bad headache. She 
is subject to bad headaches. She begs me to make her ex- 
cuses." 

Mr. and Mrs. Germaine glanced at one another. The 
husband's face plainly expressed the suspicion which this 
second apology had roused in his mind. The wife was steady 
and calm. An interval passed a silent interval. Mr. A. and 
Mr. B. retired together guiltily into a corner. My wife and I 
looked at the pictures. 

Mrs. Germaine was the first to relieve us from our own in- 
tolerable silence. Two more guests, it appeared, were still 
wanting to complete the party. 

" Shall we have dinner at once, George ? " she said to her 
husband. " Or shall we wait for Mr. and Mrs. C. 1 " 

" We will wait five minutes,'' he answered shortly with his 
eye on Mr. A. and Mr. B., guiltily secluded in their corner. 

The drawing-room door opened. We all knew that a third 
married lady was expected ; we all looked towards the door in 
unutterable anticipation. Our unexpressed hopes rested silently 
on the possible appearance of Mrs. C. Would that admirable, 
but unknown, woman at once charm and relieve us by her 



The Prelude. 



presence ? I shudder as I write it. Mr. C. walked into the 
room and walked in, alone. 

Mr. Germaine suddenly varied his formal inquiry, in receiv- 
ing the new guest. 

" Is your wife ill 1 " he asked. 

Mr. C. was an elderly man ; Mr. 0. had lived (judging by 
appearances) in the days when the old-fashioned laws of polite- 
ness were still in force. He discovered his two married 
brethren in their corner, unaccompanied by their wives ; and 
he delivered his apology for his wife, with the air of a man 
who felt unaffectedly ashamed of it. 

" Mrs. C. is so sorry. She has got such a bad cold. She 
does so regret not being able to accompany me." 

At this third apology Mr. Germaine's indignation forced its 
way outwards into expression in words. 

"Two bad colds, and one bad headache," he said, with 
ironical politeness. " I don't know how your wives agree, 
gentlemen, when they are well. But, when they are ill, their 
unanimity is wonderful ! " 

The dinner was announced as that sharp saying passed his 
lips. 

I had the honour of taking Mrs. Germaine to the dining- 
room. Her sense of the implied insult offered to her by the 
wives of her husband's friends only showed itself in a trem- 
bling, a very slight trembling, of the hand that rested on my 
arm. My interest in her increased tenfold. Only a woman 
who had been accustomed to suffer, who had been broken and 
disciplined to self-restraint, could have endured the moral 
martyrdom inflicted on her as this woman endured it, from the 
beginning of the evening to the end. 



The Tzvo Destinies. 



Am I using the language of exaggeration, when I write of 
my hostess in these terms ? Look at the circumstances, as 
they struck two strangers like my wife and myself. 

Here was the first dinner-party which Mr. and Mrs. 
G-ermaine had given since their marriage. Three of Mr. 
Germaine's friends, all married men, had been invited with 
their wives, to meet Mr. Germaine's wife, and had (evidently) 
accepted the invitation without reserve. What discoveries had 
taken place, between the giving of the invitation and the giving 
of the dinner, it was impossible to say. The one thing plainly 
discernible was that, in the interval, the three wives had agreed 
in the resolution to leave their husbands to represent them at 
Mrs. Germaine's table ; and, more amazing still, the husbands 
had so far approved of the grossly discourteous conduct of the 
wives, as to consent to make the most insultingly trivial ex- 
cuses for their absence. Could any crueller slur than this have 
been cast on a woman, at the outset of her married life, before 
the face of her husband, and in the presence of two strangers 
from another country ? Is " martyrdom " too big a word to 
use in describing what a sensitive person must have suffered, 
subjected to such treatment as this ? Well, I think not. 

We took our places at the dinner-table. Don't ask me to 
describe that most miserable of mortal meetings, that weariest 
and dreariest of human festivals. It is quite bad enough to 
remember that evening it is indeed ! 

My wife and I did our best to keep the conversation moving 
as easily and as harmlessly as might be. I may say that we 
really worked hard. Nevertheless, our success was not very 
encouraging. Try as we might to overlook them, there were 
the three empty places of the three absent women, speaking in 



The Preiitde. 



their own dismal language for themselves. Try as we might 
to resist it, we all felt the one sad conclusion which those 
empty places persisted in forcing on our minds. It was surely 
too plain that some terrible report, affecting the character of 
the unhappy woman at the head of the table, had unexpectedly 
come to light, and had at one blow destroyed her position in 
the estimation of her husband's friends. In the face of the 
excuses in the drawing-room, in the face of the empty places at 
the dinner-table, what could the friendliest guests do, to any 
good purpose, to help the husband and wife in their sore and 
sudden need 1 They could say good-night at the earliest pos- 
sible opportunity, and mercifully leave the married pair to 
themselves. 

Let it at least be recorded to the credit of the three gentle- 
men designated in these pages as A., B. and C., that they were 
sufficiently ashamed of themselves and their wives to be the 
first members of the dinner party who left the house. In a 
few minutes more, we rose to follow their example. Mrs. 
Germaine earnestly requested that we would delay our de- 
parture. 

" Wait a few minutes," she whispered, with a glance at her 
husband. " I have something to say to you before you go." 

She left us ; and, taking Mr. Germaine by the arm, led him 
away to the opposite side of the room. The two held a little 
colloquy together in low voices. The husband closed the con- 
sultation by lifting the wife's hand to his lips. 

" Do as you please, my love," he said to her. " I leave it 
entirely to you." 

He sat down sorrowfully, lost in his thoughts. Mrs. Ger~ 



8 The Two Destinies. 

maine unlocked a cabinet at the farther end of the room, and 
returned to us alone, carrying a small portfolio in her hand. 

" No words of mine can tell you how gratefully I feel your 
kindness/' she said, with perfect simplicity and with perfect 
dignity at the same time. " Under very trying circumstances 
you have treated me with the tenderness and the sympathy 
which you might have shown to an old friend. The one re- 
turn I can make for all that I owe to you is to admit you to 
my fullest confidence, and to leave you to judge for yourselves 
whether I deserve the treatment which I have received to- 
night." 

Her eyes filled with tears. She paused to control herself 
We both begged her to say no more. Her husband, joining us, 
added his entreaties to ours. She thanked us, but she per- 
sisted. Like most sensitively-organised persons, she could be 
resolute when she believed that the occasion called for it. 

" I have a few words more to say," she resumed, addressing 
my wife. " You are the only married woman who has come 
to our little dinner-party. The marked absence of the other 
wives explains itself. It is not for me to say whether they are 
right or wrong in refusing to sit at our table. My dear hus- 
band who knows my whole life as well as I know it myself 
expressed the wish that we should invite these ladies. He 
wrongly supposed that his estimate of me would be the esti- 
mate accepted by his friends ; and neither he nor I anticipated 
that the misfortunes of my past life would be revealed by some 
person acquainted with them, whose treachery we have yet to 
discover. The least I can do, by way of acknowledging your 
kindness, is to place you in the same position towards me 
which the other ladies now occupy. The circumstances under 



The Prelude. 



which I have become the wife of Mr. Germaine are, in some 
respects, very remarkable. They are related, without suppres- 
sion or reserve, in a little narrative which my husband wrote, 
at the time of our marriage, for the satisfaction of one of his 
absent relatives whose good opinion he was unwilling to for- 
feit. The manuscript is in this portfolio. After what has 
happened, I ask you both to read it as a personal favour to 
me. It is for you to decide, when you know all, whether 1 am 
a fit person for an honest woman to associate with, or not." 

She held out her hand with a sweet sad smile and bade us 
good-night. My wife, in her impulsive way, forgot the formali- 
ties proper to the occasion, and kissed her at parting. At that 
one little act of sisterly sympathy, the fortitude which the poor 
creature had preserved all through the evening gave way in an 
instant. She burst into tears. 

I felt as fond of her and as sorry for her as my wife. But 
(unfortunately) I could not take my wife's privilege of kissing 
her. On our way down stairs, I found the opportunity of 
saying a cheering word to her husband as he accompanied us 
to the door. 

" Before I open this," I remarked, pointing to the portfolio 
under my arm, " my mind is made up, sir, about one thing. 
If I wasn't married already, I tell you this I should envy you 
your wife." 

He pointed to the portfolio, in his turn. 

" Read what I have written there," he said, " and you will 
understand what those false friends of mine have made me suf- 
fer to-night." 

The next morning my wife and I opened the portfolio. It 
contained two manuscripts, which we copy here in their order 
as they were written. 




[George Germaine writes the History of his First Love.~\ 
CHAPTER I. 

GREENWATER BROAD. 

OOK back, my memory, through the dim labyrinth 
of the past, through the mingling joys and sor- 
rows of twenty years. Rise again, my boyhood's 
days by the winding green shores of the little lake. 
Come to me once more, my child-love, in the inno- 
cent beauty of your first ten years of life. Let us 
live again, my angel, as we lived in our first Paradise, before 
sin and sorrow lifted their flaming swords and drove us out 
into the world. 

The month was March. The last wild-fowl of the season 
were floating on the waters of the lake which, in our Suffolk 
tongue, we called Greenwater Broad. 

Wind where it might, the grassy banks and the overhanging 
trees tinged the lake with the soft green reflections from which 
it took its name. In a creek at the south end the boats were 
kept my own pretty sailing boat having a tiny natural har- 
bour all to itself. In a creek at the north end stood the great 
trap (called a " Decoy "), used for snaring the wild-fowl who 
flocked every winter, by thousands and thousands, to Green- 
water Broad. 



Greenwater Broad. 11 

My little Mary and I went out together, hand in hand, to 
see the last birds of the season lured into the Decoy. 

The outer part of the strange bird-trap rose from the waters 
of the lake in a series of circular arches, formed of elastic 
branches bent to the needed shape, and covered with folds of 
fine network making the roof. Little by little diminishing in 
size, the arches and their network followed the secret windings 
of the creek inland to its end. Built back round the arches, 
on their landward side, ran a wooden paling, high enough to 
hide a man kneeling behind it from the view of the birds on 
the lake. A t certain intervals, a hole was broken in the paling, 
just large enough to allow of the passage through it of a dog 
of the terrier or the spaniel breed. And there began and ended 
the simple yet sufficient mechanism of the Decoy. 

In those days I was thirteen, and Mary was ten years old. 
Walking on our way to the lake, we had Mary's father with 
us for guide and companion. The good man served as bailiff 
on my father's estate. He was, besides, a skilled master in 
the art of decoying ducks. The dog who helped him (we used 
no tame ducks as decoys in Suffolk) was a little black ter- 
rier : a skilled master also, in his way ; a creature who pos- 
sessed, in equal proportions, the enviable advantages of perfect 
good-humour and perfect common-sense. 

The dog followed the bailiff, and we followed the dog. 

Arrived at the paling which surrounded the Decoy, the dog 
sat down to wait until he was wanted. The bailiff and the 
children crouched behind the paling, and peeped through the 
outermost dog-hole, which commanded a full view of the lake. 
It was a day without wind ; not a ripple stirred the surface of 



12 The Two Destinies. 

the water ; the soft grey clouds filled all the sky, and hid the 
sun from view. 

We peeped through the hole in the paling. There were 
the wild ducks collected within easy reach of the Decoy 
placidly dressing their feathers on the placid surface of the 
lake. 

The bailiff looked at the dog, and made a sign. The dog 
looked at the bailiff ; and, stepping forward quietly, passed 
through the hole, so as to show himself on the narrow strip of 
ground shelving down from the outer side of the paling to the 
lake. 

First one duck, then another, then half a dozen together, 
discovered the dog. 

A new object showing itself on the solitary scene, instantly 
became an object of all-devouring curiosity to the ducks. The 
outermost of them began to swim slowly towards the strange 
four-footed creature planted motionless on the bank. By twos 
and threes the main body of the water-fowl gradually followed 
the advanced guard. Swimming nearer and nearer to the dog, 
the wary ducks suddenly came to a halt, and, poised on the 
water, viewed from a safe distance the phenomenon on the 
land. 

The bailiff, kneeling behind the paling, whispered " Trim !" 

Hearing his name, the terrier turned about, and retiring 
through the hole, became lost to the view of the ducks. Mo- 
tionless on the water, the wild-fowl wondered and waited. In 
a minute more, the dog had trotted round, and had shown 
himself through the next hole in the paling ; pierced farther 
inward, where the lake ran up into the outermost of the wind- 
ings of the creek. 



Greenwater Broad. 13 

The second appearance of the terrier instantly produced a 
second fit of curiosity among the ducks. With one accord, 
they swam forward again, to get another and a nearer view of 
the dog ; then, judging their safe distance once more, they 
stopped for the second time, under the outermost arch of the 
Decoy. Again, the dog vanished, and the puzzled ducks wait- 
ed. An interval passed and the third appearance of Trim 
took place, through a third hole in the paling, pierced farther 
inland, up the creek. For the third time, irresistible curiosity 
urged the ducks to advance farther and farther inward under 
the fatal arches of the Decoy. A fourth and a fifth time the 
game went on, until the dog had lured the water-fowl, from 
point to point, into the inner recesses of the Decoy. There, a 
last appearance of Trim took place. A last advance, a last 
cautious pause was made by the ducks. The bailiff touched 
the strings. The weighted network fell vertically into the 
water, and closed the Decoy. There, by dozens on dozens, 
were the ducks, caught by means of their own curiosity with 
nothing but a little dog for a bait ! In a few hours after- 
wards, they were all dead ducks, on their way to the London 
market. 

As the last act in the curious comedy of the Decoy came to 
its end, little Mary laid her hand on my shoulder, and, raising 
herself on tiptoe, whispered in my ear : 

" George ! come home with me. I have got something to 
show you that is better worth seeing than the ducks." 

" What is it 1 " 

" It's a surprise. I won't tell you." 

" Will you give me a kiss 1 " 



14 The Two Destinies. 

The charming little creature put her slim sunburnt arms 
around my neck, and answered : 

" As many kisses as you like, George." 

It was innocently said on her side. It was innocently done 
on mine. The good easy bailiff, looking aside at the moment 
from his ducks, discovered us pursuing our boy and girl court- 
ship in each other's arms. He shook his big forefinger at us, 
with something of a sad and doubting smile. 

"Ah, master George ! master George ! " he said, " when 
your father comes home, do you think he will approve of his 
son and heir kissing his bailiff's daughter 1 " 

" When my father comes home," I answered with great 
dignity, " I shall tell him the truth. I shall say I am going to 
marry your daughter." 

The bailiff burst out laughing, and looked back again at his 
ducks. 

"Well! well!" we heard him say to himself. "They're 
only children. There's no call, poor things, to part them yet 
awhile." 

Mary and I had a great dislike to be called children. Pro- 
perly understood, one of us was a lady aged ten, and the other 
was a gentleman aged thirteen. We left the good bailiff in- 
dignantly, and went away together, hand in hand, to the 
cottage. 






CHAPTER II. 

TWO YOUNG HEARTS. 

is growing too fast," said the doctor to my mo- 
ther ; " and he is getting a great deal too clever 
for a boy at his age. Remove him from school, 
ma'am, for six months ; let him run about in the 
open air at home ; and, if you find him with a 
book in his hand, take it away directly. There 
is my prescription !" 

Those words decided my fate in life. 

In obedience to the doctor's advice, I was left, an idle boy 
without brothers, sisters, or companions of my own age to 
roam about the grounds of our lonely country house. The 
bailiff's daughter, like me, was an only child ; and, like me, she 
had no playfellows. We met in our wanderings on the solitary 
shores of the lake. Beginning by being inseparable com- 
panions, we ripened and developed into true lovers. Our pre- 
liminary courtship concluded, we next proposed (before I re- 
turned to school) to burst into complete maturity by becoming 
man and wife. 

I am not writing in jest. Absurd as it may appear to " sen- 
sible people," we two children were lovers if ever there were 
lovers yet. 

We had no pleasures apart from the one all-sufficient pleasure 



16 The Two Destinies. 

which we found in each other's society. We objected to the 
night, because it parted us. We entreated our parents, on 
either side, to let us sleep in the same room. I was angry 
with my mother, and Mary was disappointed in her father, 
when they laughed at us, and wondered what we should want 
next. Looking onward, from those days to the days of my 
manhood, I can vividly recall such hours of happiness as have 
fallen to my share. But I remember no delights of that later 
time comparable to the exquisite and enduring pleasure that 
filled my young being when I walked with Mary in the woods ; 
when I sailed with Mary in my boat on the lake ; when I met 
Mary, after the cruel 1 separation of the night, and flew into her 
open arms as if we had been parted for months and months 
together. 

What was the attraction that drew us so closely one to the 
other, at an age when the sexual sympathies lay dormant in 
her and in me ? 

We neither knew nor sought to know. We obeyed the im- 
pulse to love one another as a bird obeys the impulse to fly. 

Let it not be supposed that we possessed any natural gifts 
or advantages which singled us out as differing in a marked 
way from other children at our time of life. We possessed 
nothing of the sort. I had been called a clever boy at school ; 
but there were thousands of other boys at thousands of other 
schools, who headed their classes and won their prizes like me. 
Personally speaking, I was in no way remarkable except for 
being, in an ordinary phrase, " tall for my age." On her side, 
Mary displayed no striking attractions. She was a fragile 
child, with mild grey eyes and a pale complexion ; singularly 
undemonstrative, singularly shy and silent, except when she 



Two Young Hearts. 17 

was alone with me. Such beauty as she had, in those early 
days, lay in a certain artless purity and tenderness of expres- 
sion, and in the charming reddish-brown colour of her hair, 
varying quaintly and prettily in different lights. To all out- 
ward appearance two perfectly commonplace children, we were 
mysteriously united by some kindred association of the spirit in 
her and the spirit in me, which not only defied^ discovery by 
our own young selves, but which lay too deep for investigation 
by far older and far wiser heads than ours. 

You will naturally wonder whether anything was done by 
our elders to check our precocious attachment, while it was 
still an innocent love-union between a boy and a girl. 

Nothing was done by my father for the simple reason that 
he was away from home. 

He was a man of a restless and speculative turn of mind. 
Inheriting his estate burdened with debt, his grand ambition 
was to increase his small available income by his own ex- 
ertions ; to set up an establishment in London ; and to climb 
to political distinction by the ladder of Parliament. An old 
friend who had emigrated to America had proposed to him a 
speculation in agriculture in one of the Western States which 
was to make both their fortunes. My father's eccentric fancy 
was struck by the idea. For more than a year past he had 
been away from us in the United States ; and all we knew of 
him (instructed by his letters) was, that he might be shortly 
expected to return to us in the enviable character of one of the 
richest men in England. 

As for my peor mother the sweetest and softest-hearted of 
women to see me happy was all that she desired. 

The quaint little love-romance of the two children amused 
o 



18 The Two Destinies. 

and interested her. She jested with Mary's father about the 
coming union between the two families, without one serious 
thought of the future without even a foreboding of what 
might happen when my father returned. " Sufficient for the 
day is the evil (or the good) thereof," had been my mother's 
motto all her life. She agreed with the easy philosophy of the 
bailiff, already recorded in these pages : " They're only 
children ; there's no call, poor things, to part them yet 
awhile ! " 

There was one member of the family, however, who took a 
sensible and serious view of the matter. 

My father's brother paid us a visit in our solitude discov- 
ered what was going on between Mary and me and was at 
first, naturally enough, inclined to laugh at us. Closer inves- 
tigation altered his way of thinking. He became convinced 
that my mother was acting like a fool ; that the bailiff (a faithful 
servant, if ever there was one yet) was cunningly advancing 
his own interests by means of his daughter ; and that I was a 
young idiot, who had developed his native reserves of imbeci- 
lity at an unusually early period of life. Speaking to my 
mother under the influence of these strong impressions, my 
uncle offered to take me back with him to London, and keep 
me there until I had been brought to my senses by association 
with his own children, and by careful superintendence under 
his own roof. 

My mother hesitated about accepting this proposal ; she had 
the advantage over my uncle of understanding my disposition. 
While she was still doubting, while my uncle was still impa- 
tiently waiting for her decision, I settled the question for my 
elders by running away. 



Two Young Hearts. 19 

I left a letter to represent me in my absence ; declaring that 
no mortal power should part me from Mary, and promising to 
return and ask my mother's pardon as soon as my uncle had 
left the house. The strictest search was made for me, without 
discovering a trace of my place of refuge. My uncle departed 
for London, predicting that I should live to be a disgrace to 
the family, and announcing that he should transmit his opinion 
of me to my father, in America, by the next mail. 

The secret of the hiding-place in which I contrived to defy 
discovery is soon told. 

I was hidden (without the bailiff's knowledge), in the bed- 
room of the bailiff's mother. And did the bailiff's mother 
know it ? you will ask. To which I answer : the bailiff's 
mother did it. And what is more, gloried in doing it not, 
observe, as an act of hostility to my relatives, but simply as a 
duty that lay on her conscience. 

What sort of old woman, in the name of all that is wonder- 
ful, was this ? Let her appear and speak for herself the wild 
and weird grandmother of gentle little Mary ; the Sibyl of 
modern times, known far and wide, in our part of Suffolk, as 
Dame Dermody. 

I see her again, as I write, sitting in her son's pretty cottage 
parlour, hard by the window, so that the light fell over her 
shoulder while she knitted or read. A little lean wiry old 
woman was Dame Dermody with fierce black eyes, surmount- 
ed by bushy white eyebrows, by a high wrinkled forehead, and 
by thick white hair gathered neatly under her old-fashioned 
" mob-cap. " Eeport whispered (and whispered truly), that 
she had been a lady by birth and breeding, and that she had 
deliberately closed her prospects in life by marrying a man 



20 The Two Destinies. 

greatly her inferior in social rank. Whatever her family might 
think of her marriage, she herself never regretted it. In her 
estimation, her husband's memory was a sacred memory; his 
spirit was a guardian spirit watching over her, waking or sleep- 
ing, morning or night. 

Holding this faith, she was in no respect influenced by those 
grossly material ideas of modern growth, which associate the 
presence of spiritual beings with clumsy conjuring tricks and 
monkey-antics performed on tables and chairs. Dame Der- 
mody's nobler superstition formed an integral part of her re- 
ligious convictions convictions which had long since found 
their chosen resting-place in the mystic doctrines of Emanuel 
Swedenborg, The only books which she read were the works 
of the Swedish Seer. She mixed up Swedenborg's teachings on 
angels and departed spirits, on love to one's neighbour and 
purity of life, with wild fancies and kindred beliefs of her own, 
and preached the visionary religious doctrines thus derived, 
not only in the bailiff's household, but also on proselytising ex- 
peditions to the households of her humble neighbours, far and 
near. 

Under her son's roof after the death of his wife she reigned 
a supreme power ; priding herself alike on her close attention 
to her domestic duties, and on her privileged communications 
with angels and spirits. She would hold long colloquies with 
the spirit, of her dead husband, before anybody who happened 
to be present colloquies which struck the simple spectators 
mute with terror. To her mystic view, the love union between 
Mary and me was something too sacred and too beautiful to be 
tried by the mean and matter-of-fact tests set up by society. 
She wrote for us little formulas of prayer and praise, which we 



Two Young Hearts. 21 

were to use when we met and when we parted, day by day. 
She solemnly warned her son to look upon us as two young 
consecrated creatures, walking unconsciously on a heavenly 
path of their own, whose beginning was on earth, but whose 
bright end was among the angels in a better state of being. 
Imagine my appearing before such a woman as this/and telling 
her with tears of despair that I was determined to die rather 
than let my uncle part me from little Mary and you will no 
longer be astonished at the hospitality which threw open to 
me the sanctuary of Dame Dermody's own room. 

When the safe time came for leaving my hiding-place, I com- 
mitted a serious mistake. In thanking the old woman at part- 
ing, I said to her (with a boy's sense of honour), " I won't tell 
upon you, Dame ; my mother shan't know that you hid me in 
your bedroom." 

The Sibyl laid her dry fleshless hand on my shoulder, and 
forced me roughly back into the chair from which I had just 
risen. 

" Boy ! " she said, looking through and through me with her 
fierce black eyes, " do you dare suppose that I ever did any- 
thing that I was ashamed of 1 Do you think I am ashamed of 
what I have done now ? Wait there. Your mother may mis- 
take me too. I shall write to your mother." 

She put on her great round spectacles with tortoiseshell rims, 
and sat down to her letter. Whenever her thoughts flagged, 
whenever she was at a loss for an expression, she looked over 
her shoulder, as if some visible creature was stationed behind 
her, watching what she wrote consulted the spirit of her hus- 
band, exactly as she might have consulted a living man smiled 
softly to herself and went on with her writing. 



22 The 7^wo Destinies. 



11 There !" she said, handing me the completed letter with 
an imperial gesture of indulgence. " Bis mind and my mind 
are written there. Go, boy. I pardon you. Give my letter 
to your mother." 

So she always spoke, with the same formal and measured 
dignity of manner and language. 

I gave the letter to my mother. We read it, and marvelled 
over it, together. Thus, counselled by the ever-present spirit 
of her husband, Dame Dermody wrote : 

"Madam, I have taken, what you may be inclined to think, 
a great liberty. I have assisted your son George in setting his 
uncle's authority at defiance. I have encouraged your son 
George in his resolution to be true, in time and in eternity, to 
my grandchild, Mary Dermody. 

" It is due to you, and to me, that I should tell you with 
what motive I have acted in doing these things. 

" I hold the belief that all love that is true, is fore-ordained 
and consecrated in Heaven. Spirits destined to be united in 
the better world, are divinely commissioned to discover each 
other, and to begin their union in this world. The only happy 
marriages are those in which the two destined spirits have suc- 
ceeded in meeting one another in this sphere of life. 

" When the kindred spirits have once met, no human power 
can really part them. Sooner or later, they must, by Divine 
law, find each other again, and become united spirits once 
more. Worldly wisdom may force them into widely different 
ways of life ; worldly wisdom may delude them, or may make 
them delude themselves, into contracting an earthly and a 
fallible union. It matters nothing. The time will certainly 
come when that union will manifest itself as earthly and fal- 



Two Young Hearts. 23 

lible ; and the two disunited spirits, finding each other again, 
will become united here, for the world beyond this united, 1 
tell you, in defiance of all human laws, and of all human notions 
of right and wrong. 

" This is my belief. I have proved it by my own life. Maid, 
wife and widow, I have held to it, and I have found it good. 

" I was born, madam, in the rank of society to which you 
belong. I received the mean material teaching which fulfils 
the worldly notion of education. Thanks be to God, my kin- 
dred spirit met my spirit, while I was still young. I knew true 
love and true union before I was twenty years of age. I mar- 
ried, madam, in the rank from which Christ chose his apostles 
I married a labouring man. No human language can tell 
my happiness while we lived united here. His death has not 
parted us. He helps me to write this letter. In my last hours, 
I shall see him standing among the angels, waiting for me on 
the banks of the shining river. 

" You will now understand the view I take of the tie which 
unites the young spirits of our children, at the bright outset of 
their lives. 

" Believe me, the thing which your husband's brother has 
proposed to you to do, is a sacrilege and a profanation. I own 
to you freely that I look on what I have done to wards thwarting 
your relative in this matter, as an act of virtue. You cannot 
expect me to think it a serious obstacle to an union predestined 
in Heaven, that your son is the Squire's heir, and that my 
grandchild is only the bailiff's daughter. Dismiss from your 
mind, I implore you, the unworthy and unchristian prejudices 
of rank. Are we not all equal before God ? Are we not all 
equal (even in this world), before disease and death ? Not your 



24 The Two Destinies. 

son's happiness only, but your own peace of mind is concerned, 
in taking heed to my words. I warn you, madam, you cannot 
hinder the destined union of these two child-spirits, in after 
years, as man and wife. Part them now and YOU will be 
responsible for the sacrifices, degradations, and distresses 
through which your George and my Mary may be condemned 
to pass, on their way back to each other in later life. 

" Now my mind is unburdened. Now I have said all. 

" If I have spoken too freely, or have in any other way un- 
wittingly offended, I ask your pardon, and remain, madam, 
your faithful servant and well-wisher, 

" HELEN DERMODY." 

So the letter ended. 

To me, it is something more than a mere curiosity of epis- 
tolary composition. I see in it the prophecy strangely fulfilled 
in later years of events in Mary's life and in mine, which 
future pages are now to tell. 

My mother decided on leaving the letter unanswered. Like 
many of her poorer neighbours, she was a little afraid of Dame 
Dermody ; and she was, besides, habitually averse to all dis- 
cussions which turned on the mysteries of spiritual life. I was 
reproved, admonished, and forgiven and there was the end 
of it. 

For some happy weeks, Mary and I returned, without hin- 
drance or interruption, to our old intimate companionship. The 
end was coming, however, when we least expected it. My 
mother was startled one morning by a letter from my father 
which informed her that he had been unexpectedly obliged to 
sail for England at a moment's notice ; that- he had arrived in 
London, and that he was detained there by business which 



Two Young Hearts. 25 



would admit of no delay. We were to wait for him at home, 
in daily expectation of seeing him the moment he was free. 

This news filled my mother's mind with foreboding doubts 
of the stability of her husband's grand speculation in America. 
The sudden departure from the United States, and the myste- 
rious delay in London, were ominous to her eyes of misfortune 
to come. I am now writing of those dark days in the past, 
when the railway and the electric telegraph were still visions 
in the minds of inventors. Rapid communication with my 
father (even if he would have consented to take us into his 
confidence) was impossible. We had no choice but to wait 
and hope. 

The weary days passed and still my father's brief letters 
described him as detained by his business. The morning 
came, when Mary and I went out with Dermody the bailiff, 
to see the last wild-fowl of the season lured into the Decoy 
and still the welcome home waited for the master, and waited 
in vain. 





CHAPTER III. 

SWEDENBORG AND THE SIBYL. 

,Y narrative may move on again, from the point 
at which it paused in the first chapter. 

Mary and I (as you may remember) had left 
the bailiff alone at the Decoy, and had set 
forth on our way together to Dermody's cot- 
tage. 

As we approached the garden gate, I saw a servant from the 
house waiting there. He carried a message from my mother 
a message for me. 

" My mistress wishes you to go home, Master George, as 
soon as you can. A letter has come by the coach. My master 
means to take a post-chaise from London, and sends word 
that we may expect him in the course of the day." 

Mary's attentive face saddened when she heard those words. 
"Must you really go away, George," she whispered, "before 
you see what I have got waiting for you at home 1 " 

I remembered Mary's promised " surprise," the secret of 
which was only to be revealed to me when we got to the cot- 
tage. How could I disappoint her ? My poor little lady-love 
looked ready to cry at the bare prospect of it. 

I dismissed the servant with a message of the temporising 



Swedenborg and the Sibyl. 27 

sort. My love to my mother and I would be back at the 
house in half an hour. 

We entered the cottage. 

Dame Dermody was sitting in the light of the window as 
usual, with one of the mystic books of Emanuel Swedenborg 
open on her lap. She solemnly lifted her hand, on our ap- 
pearance ; signing to us to occupy our customary corner, with- 
out speaking to her. It was an act of domestic high treason 
to interrupt the Sibyl at her books. We crept quietly into 
our places. Mary waited until she saw her grandmother's 
grey head bend down, and her grandmother's bushy eyebrows 
contract attentively, over her reading. Then, and then only, 
the discreet child rose on tiptoe ; disappeared noiselessly in 
the direction of her bedchamber ; and came back to me, carry- 
ing something carefully wrapped up in her best cambric hand- 
kerchief. 

" Is that the surprise 1 " I whispered. 

Mary whispered back, " Guess what it is ! " 

"Something for me?" 

" Yes. Go on guessing. What is it ? " 

I guessed three times and each guess was wrong. Mary 
decided on helping me by a hint. 

" Say your letters," she suggested ; " arid go on till I stop 
you." 

I began : " A, B, C, D, E, F " There she stopped me. 

" It's the name of a Thing," she said. " And it begins with 
F." 

I guessed " Fern," " Feather," " Fife "and there my re- 
sources failed me. 

Mary sighed and shook her head. " You don't take pains," 



28 The Two Destinies. 

she said. " You are three whole years older than I am. After 
all the trouble I have taken to please you, you may be too big 
to care for my present, when you see it. Guess again." 
If "I can't guess." 

" You must ! " 

" I give it up." 

Mary refused to let me give it up. She helped me by an- 
other hint. 

" What did you once say you wished you had in your boat ? " 
she asked. 

" Was it long ago ? " I inquired, at a loss for an answer. 

" Long, long ago ! Before the winter. When the autumn 
leaves were falling and you took me out one evening for a 
sail. Ah, George, you have forgotten !" 

Too true, of me and of my brethren, old and young alike ! 
It is always his love that forgets, and her love that remembers. 
We were only two children and we were types of the man and 
the woman already ! 

Mary lost patience with me. Forgetting the terrible pre- 
sence of her grandmother, she jumped up; and snatched the 
concealed object out of the handkerchief. 

" There ! " she cried briskly, " now do you know what it is ? " 

I remembered at last. The thing I had wished for in my 
boat, all those months ago, was a new flag. And here was the 
flag made for me in secret by Mary's own hand ! The ground 
was green silk, with a dove embroidered on it in white, carry- 
ing in its beak the typical olive branch, wrought in gold 
thread. The work was the tremulous uncertain work of a 
child's fingers. But how faithfully my little darling had re- 
membered my wish how patiently she had plied the needle 



Swedenborg and the Sibyl. 29 

over the traced lines of the pattern how industriously she 
had laboured through the dreary winter days ; and all for my 
sake ! What words could tell my pride, my gratitude, my 
happiness 1 I too forgot the presence of the Sibyl bending over 
her book I took the little workwoman in my arms, and 
kissed her till I was fairly out of breath, and could kiss no 
longer. 

" Mary ! " I burst out, in the first heat of my enthusiasm 
" my father is coming home to-day. I will speak to him to- 
night. And I will marry you to-morrow." 

" Boy ! " said the awful voice at the other end of the room. 
"Come here." 

Dame Dermody's mystic book was closed ; Dame Dermody's 
weird black eyes were watching us in our corner. I approach- 
ed her ; and Mary followed me timidly, by a footstep at a 
time. 

The Sibyl took me by the hand, with a caressing gentleness 
which was new in my experience of her. 

" Do you prize that toy 1 " she inquired, looking at the flag. 
" Hide it ! " she cried before I could answer. " Hide it, or it 
may be taken from you." 

" Why should I hide it 1" I asked. " I want to fly it at the 
mast of my boat." 

" You will never fly it at the mast of your boat ! " With 
that answer, she took the flag from me, and thrust it im- 
patiently into the breast-pocket of my jacket. 

" Don't crumple it, grandmother ! " said Mary piteously. 

I repeated rny question. 

(k Why shall I never fly it at the mast of my boat 1 " 



30 



The Two Destinies. 



Dame Dermody laid her hand on the closed volume of 
Swedenborg lying in her lap. 

" Three times I have opened this Book since the morning," 
she said "Three times the words of the Prophet warn 
me that there is trouble coming. Children ! it is trouble 
that is coming to You. I look there," she went on, point- 
ing to the place where a ray of sunshine poured slanting 
into the room ; " and I see my husband in the heavenly light. 
He bows his head in grief ; and he points his unerring hand 
at You. George and Mary, you are consecrated to each other ! 
Be always worthy of your consecration, be always worthy of 
yourselves." She paused. Her voice faltered. She looked 
at us with softening eyes, as those look who know sadly there 
is a parting at hand. " Kneel ! " she said, in a low tone of awe 
and grief. " It may be the last time I bless you ; it may be 
the last time I pray over you in this house. Kneel ! " 

We knelt close together at her feet. I could feel Mary's 
heart throbbing, as she pressed nearer and nearer to my side. 
I could feel my own heart quickening its beat, with a fear that 
was a mystery to me. 

" God bless and keep George and Mary, here and hereafter. 
God prosper, in future days, the union which God's wisdom 
has willed. Amen. So be it. Amen." 

As the last words fell from her lips, the cottage door was 
thrust open. My father followed by the bailiff entered the 
room. 

Dame Dermody got slowly on her feet, and looked at him 
with a stern scrutiny. 

"It has come," she said to herself. " It looks with the eyes 
it will speak with the voice of that man." 



Swedenborg and the Sibyl. 31 

My father broke the silence that followed ; addressing him- 
self to the bailiff 

" You see, Dermody," he said, " here is my son in your cot- 
tage when he ought to be in my house." He turned, and 
looked at me as I stood with my arm round little Mary, pa- 
tiently waiting for my opportunity to speak. 

" George/' he said, with the hard smile which was peculiar 
to him, when he was angry and was trying to hide it, " you are 
making a fool of yourself there. Leave that child, and come 
to me/' 

Now or never was my time to declare myself. Judging 
by appearances, I was still a boy. Judging by my own sensa- 
tions, I had developed into a man at a moment's notice. 

"Papa," I said, " I am glad to see you home again. This is 
Mary Dermody. I am in love with her, and she is in love 
with me. I wish to marry her as soon as it is convenient to 
my mother and 3 r ou." 

My father burst out laughing. Before I could speak again, 
his humour changed. He had observed that Dermody, too, 
presumed to be amused. He seemed to become mad with an- 
ger all in a moment. 

" I have been told of this infernal tomfoolery," he said ; 
" but I didn't believe it till now. Who has turned the boy's 
weak head 1 Who has encouraged him to stand there hugging 
that girl ? If it's you, Dermody, it shall be the worst days' 
work you ever did in your life." He turned to me again, be- 
fore the bailiff could defend himself. " Do you hear what I 
say 1 I tell you to leave Dermody's girl, and come home with 
me." 



32 The Two Destinies. 

" Yes, papa," I answered. " But I must go back to Mary, 
if you please, after I have been with you." 

Angry as he was, my father was positively staggered by my 
audacity. 

" You young idiot, your insolence exceeds belief," he burst 
out. " I tell you this you will never darken these doors 
again ! You have been taught to disobey me here. You have 
had things put into your head here which no boy of your age 
ought to know I'll say more, which no decent people would 
have let you know." 

" I beg your pardon, sir," Dermody interposed, very respect- 
fully and very firmly at the same time. " There are many 
things which a master, in a hot temper, is privileged to say to 
the man who serves him. But you have gone beyond your 
privilege. You have shamed me, sir, in the presence of my 
mother in the hearing of my child." 

My father checked him there. 

" You may spare the rest of it," he said. " We are master 
and servant no longer. When my son came hanging about 
your cottage, and playing at sweethearts with your girl there, 
your duty was to close the door on him. You have failed in 
your duty. I trust you no longer. Take a month's notice, 
Dermody. You leave my service." 

The bailiff steadily met my father on his own ground. He 
was no longer the easy, sweet-tempered, modest man, who was 
the man of my remembrance. 

" I beg to decline taking your month's notice, sir," he an- 
swered. " You shall have no opportunity of repeating what 
you have just said to me. I will send in my accounts to-night, 
and I will leave your service to-morrow." 



Swedenborg and the Sibyl. 33 

"We agree for once," retorted my father. " The sooner 
you go, the better." 

He stepped across the room, and put his hand on my 
shoulder. 

"Listen to me," he said, making a last effort to control him- 
self. " I don't want to quarrel with you before a discarded 
servant. There must be an end to this nonsense. Leave these 
people to pack up and go, and come back to the house with 
me." 

His heavy hand, pressing on my shoulder, seemed to press 
the spirit of resistance out of me. I so far gave way as to try 
to melt him by entreaties. 

" Oh, papa ! papa ! " I cried, " don't part me from Mary ! 
See how pretty and good she is ! She has made me a flag for 
my boat. Let me come here and see her sometimes. I can't 
live without her." 

I could say no more. My poor little Mary burst out crying. 
Her tears and my entreaties were alike wasted on my father. 

"Take your choice," he said, "between coming away of 
your own accord, or obliging me to take you away by force. I 
mean to part you and Dermody's girl." 

" Neither you nor any man can part them," interposed a 
voice, speaking behind us. " Rid your mind of that notion, 
master, before it is too late." 

My father looked round quickly, and discovered Dame 
Dermody facing him in the full light of the window. She had 
stepped back, at the outset of the dispute, into the corner be- 
hind the fireplace. There she had remained, biding her time 
to speak, until my father's last threat brought her out of her 
place of retirement. 



34 The Two Destinies. 

They looked at each other for a moment. My father 
seemed to think it beneath his dignity to answer her. Ke 
went on with what he had to say to me. 

" I shall count three slowly," he resumed. " Before I get to 
the last number, make up your mind to do what I tell you, or 
submit to the disgrace of being taken away by force." 

" Take him where you may," said Dame Dermody, " he will 
still be on his way to his marriage with my grandchild." 

" And where shall I be, if you please 1" asked my father, 
stung into speaking to her this time. 

The answer followed instantly, in these startling words : 

" You will be on your way to your ruin and your death." 

My father turned his back on the prophetess, with a smile 
of contempt. 

" One ! " he said, beginning to count. 

I set my teeth, and clasped both arms round Mary, as he 
spoke. I had inherited some of his temper, and he was now 
to know it. 

" Two ! " proceeded my father, after waiting a little. 

Mary put her trembling lips to my ear, and whispered, " Let 
me go, George ! I can't bear to see it. Oh, look how he 
frowns ! I know he'll hurt you ! " 

My father lifted his forefinger, as a preliminary warning 
before he counted Three. 

" Stop ! " cried Dame Dermody. 

My father looked round at her again, with sardonic astonish- 
ment. 

" I beg your pardon, ma'am have you anything particular 
to say to me 1 " he asked. 

"Man !" returned the Sibyl, "you speak lightly. Have I 



Swedenborg and the Sibyl. 35 

spoken lightly to you 1 I warn you to bow your wicked will 
before a Will that is mightier than yours. The spirits of these 
children are kindred spirits. For time and for eternity, they 
are united one to the other. Put land and sea between them 
they will still be together ; they will communicate in visions, 
they will be revealed to each other in dreams. Bind them by 
worldly ties ; wed your son, in the time to come, to another 
woman, and my granddaughter to another man. In vain ! I tell 
you, in vain ! You may doom them to misery, you may drive 
them to sin the day of their union on earth is still a day pre- 
destined in Heaven. It will come ! It will come ! Submit, 
while the time of submission is yours. You are a doomed 
man. I see the shadow of disaster, I see the seal of death, on 
your face. Go ; and leave these consecrated ones to walk the 
dark ways of the world together, in the strength of their inno_ 
cence, in the light of their love. Go and God forgive you." 

In spite of himself, my father was struck by the irresistible 
strength of conviction which inspired those words. The 
bailiff's mother had impressed him as a tragic actress might 
have impressed him on the stage. She had checked the mock- 
ing answer on his lips ; but she had not shaken his iron will. 
His face was as hard as ever, when he turned my way once 
more. 

" The last chance, George," he said and counted the last 
number : " Three ! " 

I neither moved nor answered him. 

" You will have it 1 " he said, as he fastened his hold on my 
arm. 

I fastened my hold on Mary ; I whispered to her, " I won't 
leave you ! " She seemed not to hear me. She trembled from 



36 The Two Destinies. 

head to foot, in my arms. A faint cry of terror fluttered from 
her lips. Dermody instantly stepped forward. Before my 
father could wrench me away from her, he had said in my ear, 
" You can give her to -me, Master George," and had released 
his child from my embrace. She stretched her little frail 
hands out yearningly to me, as she lay in Dermody's arms. 
" Good bye, dear," she said faintly. I saw her head sink on her 
father's bosom, as I was dragged to the door. In my helpless 
rage and misery, I struggled against the cruel hands that had 
got me, with all the strength I had left. I cried out to her, " I 
love you, Mary ! I will come back to you, Mary ! I will 
never marry any one but you ! " Step by step, I was forced 
farther and farther away. The last I saw of her, my darling's 
head was still resting on Dermody's breast. Her grandmother 
stood near and shook her withered hands at my father and 
shrieked her terrible prophecy, in the hysteric frenzy that 
possessed her when she saw the separation accomplished. 
" Go ! you go to your ruin ! you go to your death ! " While 
her voice still rang in my ears, the cottage door was opened 
and closed again. It was all over. The modest world of my 
boyish love and my boyish joy disappeared like the vision of a 
dream. The empty outer wilderness, which was my father's 
world, opened before me void of love and void of joy. God 
forgive me how I hated him at that moment ! 





CHAPTER IV. 

THE CURTAIN FALLS. 

OR the rest of the day, and through the night, I 
was kept a close prisoner in my room watched 
by a man on whose fidelity my father could depend. 
The next morning I made an effort to escape, 
and was discovered before I had got free of the 
house. Confined again to my room, I contrived to 
write to Mary, and to slip my note into the willing hand of the 
housemaid who attended on me. Useless ! The vigilance of 
my guardian was not to be evaded. The woman was suspected 
and followed, and the letter was taken from her. My father 
tore it up with his own hands. 

Later in the day, my mother was permitted to see me. 
She was quite unfit, poor soul, to intercede for me, or to 
serve my interests in any way. My father had completely 
overwhelmed her by announcing that his wife and his son 
were to accompany him when he returned to America. 

" Every farthing he has in the world," said my mother, " is 
to be thrown into that hateful speculation. He has raised 
money in London ; he has let the house to some rich tradesman 
for seven years ; he has sold the plate, and the jewels that 
came to me from his mother. The land in America swallows 



38 The Two Destinies. 

it all up. We have no home, George, and no choice but to go 
with him." 

An hour afterwards, the post-chaise was at the door. 

My father himself took me to the carriage. I broke away 
from him with a desperation which not even his resolution 
could resist. I ran, I flew along the path that led to Dermody's 
cottage. The door stood open ; the parlour was empty. I 
went into the kitchen ; I went into the upper rooms. Solitude 
everywhere. The bailiff had left his place ; and his mother and 
his daughter had gone with him. No friend or neighbour 
lingered near with a message ; no letter lay waiting for me ; no 
hint was left to tell me in what direction they had taken their 
departure. After the insulting words which his master had 
spoken to him, Dermody's pride was concerned in leaving no 
trace of his whereabouts my father might consider it a trace 
purposely left, with the object of reuniting Mary and me. I 
had no keepsake to speak to me of my lost darling, but the 
flag which she had embroidered with her own hand. The 
furniture still remained in the cottage. I sat down in our 
customary corner, by Mary's empty chair, and looked again at 
the pretty green flag, and burst out crying. 

A light touch roused me. My father had so far yielded, as 
to leave to my mother the responsibility of bringing me back 
to the travelling carriage. 

" We shall not find Mary here, George," she said, gently. 
" And we may hear of her in London. Come with me." 

I rose, and silently gave her my hand. Something low down 
on the clean white door-post, caught my eye as we passed it. 
I stooped and discovered some writing in pencil. I looked 



The Curtain Falls. 39 

closer ; it was writing in Mary's hand. The unformed childish 
characters traced these last words of farewell : 

" Goodbye, dear. Don't forget Mary." 

I knelt down, and kissed the writing. It comforted me it 
was like a farewell touch from Mary's hand. I followed my 
mother quietly to the carriage. 

Late that night we were in London. 

My good mother did all that the most compassionate kind- 
ness could do (in her position) to comfort me. She privately 
wrote to the solicitors employed by her family, enclosing a de- 
scription of Dermody and his mother and daughter, and direct- 
ing inquiries to be made at the various coach offices in 
London. She also referred the lawyers to two of Dermody's 
relatives, who lived in the city, and who might know some- 
thing of his movements after he left my father's service. 
When she had done this, she had done all that lay in her 
power. We neither of us possessed money enough to advertise 
in the newspapers. 

A week afterwards we sailed for the United States. Twice 
in that interval I communicated with the lawyers ; and twice I 
was informed that the inquiries had led to nothing. 

With this, the first epoch in my love-story comes to an end. 

For ten long years afterwards, I never again met with my 
little Mary I never even heard whether she had lived to 
grow to womanhood or not. I still kept the green flag, with 
the dove worked on it. For the rest, the waters of oblivion 
had closed over the old golden days at Greenwater Broad. 

THE END OF THE PRELUDE. 




[Derived from the Manuscript of George Gerwmne.] 
CHAPTER V. 

TEN YEARS OF MY LIFE. 

,HEN you last saw me, I was a boy of thirteen. 
You now see me a man of twenty-three. 

The story of my life, in the interval between 
these two ages, is a story that can be soon told. 
Speaking of my father first, I have to record 
that the end of his career did indeed come as 
Dame Dermody had foretold it. Before we had been a year in 
America, the total collapse of his land speculation was follow- 
ed by his death. The catastrophe was complete. But for my 
mother's little income (settled on her at her marriage) we should 
both have been left helpless at the mercy of the world. 

We made some kind friends among the hearty and hospitable 
people of the United States, whom we were unaffectedly sorry 
to leave. But there were reasons which inclined us to return 
to our own country after my father's death and we did return 
accordingly. 

Besides her brother (already mentioned in the earlier pages 
of my narrative), my mother had another relative a cousin, 



Ten Years of my Life. 41 

named Germaine on whose assistance she mainly relied for 
starting me, when the time came, in a professional career. I 
remember it, as a family rumour, that Mr. Germaine had been 
an unsuccessful suitor for my mother's hand in the days 
when they were young people together. He was still a bachelor 
at the later period when his eldest brother's death without 
issue placed him in possession of a handsome fortune. The ac- 
cession of wealth made no difference in his habits of life ; he 
was a lonely old man, estranged from his other relatives, when 
my mother and I returned to England. If I could only succeed 
in pleasing Mr. Germaine, I might consider my prospects (in 
some degree at least) as being prospects assured. 

This was one consideration that influenced us in leaving 
America. There was another in which I was especially in- 
terested that drew me back to the lonely shores of Green water 
Broad. 

My only hope of recovering a trace of Mary was to make in- 
quiries among the cottagers in the neighbourhood of my old 
home. The good bailiff had been heartily liked and respected 
in his little sphere. It seemed at least possible that some 
among his many friends in Suffolk might have discovered traces 
of him, in the year that had passed since I had left England. 
In my dreams of Mary and I dreamed of her constantly the 
lake and its woody banks formed a frequent background in the 
visionary picture of my lost companion. To the lake shores I 
looked, with a natural superstition, as to my way back to the 
one life that had its promise of happiness for me my life with 
Mary. 

On our arrival in London, I started for Suffolk alone at my 
mother's request. At her age, she naturally shrank from re- 



42 The Two Destinies. 

visiting the home-scenes now occupied by the strangers to whom 
our house had been let. 

Ah, how my heart ached (young as I was), when I saw the 
familiar green waters of the lake once more ! It was evening. 
The first object that caught my eye was the gaily-painted boat, 
once mine, in which Mary and I had so often sailed together* 
The people in possession of our house were sailing now. The 
sound of their laughter floated towards me merrily over the 
still water. Their flag flew at the little mast-head, from which 
Mary's flag had never fluttered in the pleasant breeze. I turned 
my eyes from the boat it hurt me to look at it. A few steps 
onward brought me to a promontory on the shore, and revealed 
the brown archways of the Decoy on the opposite bank. There 
was the paling behind which we had knelt to watch the snaring 
of the ducks ; there was the hole through which " Trim," the 
terrier, had shown himself to rouse the stupid curiosity of the 
waterfowl ; there, seen at intervals through the trees, was the 
winding woodland path along which Mary and I had traced 
our way to Dermody's cottage, on the day when my father's 
cruel hand had torn us from each other. How wisely my good 
mother had shrunk from looking again at the dear old scenes ! 
I turned my back on the lake, to think with calmer thoughts 
in the shadowy solitude of the woods. 

An hour's walk along the winding banks brought me round 
to the cottage which had once been Mary's home. 

The door was opened by a woman who was a stranger to me. 
She civilly asked me to enter the parlour. I had suffered enough 
already ; I made my inquiries standing on the doorstep. They 
were soon at an end. The woman was a stranger in our part 



Ten Years of my Life. 43 

of Suffolk ; neither she nor her husband had ever heard of Der- 
mody's name. 

I pursued my investigations among the peasantry, passing 
from cottage to cottage. The twilight came ; the moon rose ; 
the lights began to vanish from the lattice windows and still 
I continued my weary pilgrimage ; and still, go where I might? 
the answer to my questions was the same. Nobody knew any- 
thing of Dermody : everybody asked if I had not brought news 
of him myself. It pains me even now to recall the cruelly-com- 
plete defeat of every effort which I made on that disastrous 
evening. I passed the night in one of the cottages ] and I re- 
turned to London the next day, broken by disappointment, 
careless what I did, or where I went, next. 

Still, we were not wholly parted. I saw Mary as Dame 
Dermody said I should see her in dreams. 

Sometimes she came to me with the green flag in her hand, 
and repeated her farewell words : " Don't forget Mary." Some- 
times she led me to our well-remembered corner in the cottage 
parlour, and opened the paper on which her grandmother had 
written our prayers for us : we prayed together again, and sang 
hymns together again, as if the old times had come back. Once 
she appeared to me with tears in her eyes, and said, " We 
must wait, dear ; our time has not come yet." Twice I saw her 
looking at me, like one disturbed by anxious thoughts ; and 
twice I heard her say, " Live patiently, live innocently,George, 
for my sake." 

We settled in London, where my education was undertaken 
by a private tutor. Before we had been long in our new abode, 
an unexpected change in our prospects took place. To my 



44 The Two Destinies. 

mother's astonishment, she received an offer of marriage (ad- 
dressed to her in a letter) from Mr. Germaine. 

" I entreat you not to be startled by my proposal " (the old 
gentleman wrote) ; " you can hardly have forgotten that I was 
once fond of you, in the days when we were both young and 
both poor 1 No return to the feelings associated with that time 
is possible now. At my age, all that I ask of you is to be the 
companion of the closing years of my life, and to give me some- 
thing of a father's interest in promoting the future welfare of 
your son. Consider this, my dear, and tell me whether you 
will take the empty chair at an old man's lonely fireside." 

My mother (looking almost as confused, poor soul, as if 
she had become a young girl again) left the whole responsibility 
of decision on the shoulders of her son ! I was not long in 
making up my mind. If she said Yes, she would accept the 
hand of a man of worth and honour, who had been throughout 
his whole life devoted to her ; and she would recover the com- 
fort, the luxury, the social prosperity and position, of which my 
father's reckless course of life had deprived her. Add to this, 
that I liked Mr. Germaine, and that Mr. Germaine liked me. 
Under these circumstances, why should my mother say No ? 
She could produce no satisfactory answer to that question,when 
I put it. As the necessary consequence, she became in due 
course of time Mrs. Germaine. I have only to add that, to the 
end of her life, my good mother congratulated herself (in this 
case at least) on having taken her son's advice. 

The years went on and still Mary and I were parted, ex- 
cept in my dreams. The years went on, until the perilous time 
which comes in every man's life, came in mine. I reached the 



Ten Years of my Life. 45 

age when the strongest of all the passions seizes on the senses, 
and asserts its mastery over mind and body alike. 

I had hitherto passively endured the wreck of my earliest 
and dearest hopes ; I had lived patiently, and lived innocently, 
for Mary's sake. Now, my patience left me ; my innocence was 
numbered among the lost things of the past. My days, it is 
true, were still devoted to the tasks set me by my tutor. But 
my nights were given, in secret, to a reckless profligacy, which 
(in my present frame of mind) I look back on with disgust and 
dismay. I profaned my remembrances of Mary in the company 
of women who had reached the lowest depths of degradation. 
I impiously said to myself, " I have hoped for her long enough j 
I have waited for her long enough : the one thing now to do is 
to enjoy my youth, and to forget her." 

From the moment when I dropped into this degradation, I 
might sometimes think regretfully of Mary at the morning 
time, when penitent thoughts mostly come to us but I ceased 
absolutely to see her in my dreams. We were now, in the 
completest sense of the word, parted. Mary's pure spirit 
could hold no communion with mine Mary's pure spirit had 
left me. 

It is needless to say that I failed to keep the secret of my 
depravity from the knowledge of my mother. The sight of her 
grief was the first influence that sobered me. In some degree 
at least, I restrained myself I made the effort to return to 
purer ways of life. Mr. Germaine, though I had disappointed 
him, was too just a man to give me up as lost. He advised me, 
as a means of self-reform, to make my choice of a profession, 
and to absorb myself in closer studies than any that I had yet 
pursued. 



46 The Two Destinies. 

I made my peace with this good friend and second father, 
not only by following his advice, but by adopting the profession 
to which he had been himself attached, before he had inherited 
his fortune the profession of medicine. Mr. Germaine had 
been a surgeon : I resolved on being a surgeon too. 

Having entered, at rather an earlier age than usual, on my 
new way of life, I may at least say for myself that I worked 
hard. I won, and kept, the interest of the professors under 
whom I studied. On the other hand, it is not to be denied 
that my reformation was, morally speaking, far from being 
complete. I worked but what I did was done selfishly, bit- 
terly, with a hard heart. In religion and morals, I adopted 
the views of a materialist companion of my studies a worn- 
out man of more than double my age. I believed in nothing 
but what I could see, or taste, or feel. I lost all faith in human- 
ity. With the one exception of my mother, 1 had no respect 
for women. My remembrances of Mary deteriorated until they 
became little more than a lost link of association with the past. 
I still preserved the green flag, as a matter of habit but it 
was no longer kept about me : it was left undisturbed in a 
drawer of my writing-desk. Now and then,ja wholesome doubt 
whether my life was not utterly unworthy of me, would rise in 
my mind. But it held no long possession of my thoughts. 
Despising others, it was in the logical order of things that I 
should follow my conclusions to their bitter end, and consis- 
tently despise myself. 

The term of my majority arrived. I was twenty-one years 
old and of the illusions of my youth not a vestige remained ! 

Neither my mother nor Mr. G-ermame could make any posi- 
tive complaint of my conduct. But they were both thoroughly 



Ten Years of my Life. 47 

uneasy about me. After anxious consideration, my step-father 
arrived at a conclusion. He decided that the one chance of re- 
storing me to my better and brighter self, was to try the stimu- 
lant of a life among new people and new scenes. 

At the period of which I am now writing, the home govern- 
ment had decided on sending a special diplomatic mission to one 
of the native princes ruling over a remote province of our 
Indian empire. In the disturbed state of the province at that 
time, the mission, on its arrival in India, was to be accompanied 
to the prince's court by an escort, including the military as well 
as the civil servants of the Crown. The surgeon appointed to 
sail with the expedition from England was an old friend of Mr. 
Germaine's, and was in want of an assistant on whose capacity 
he could rely. Through my step-father's interest, the post was 
offered to me. I accepted it without hesitation. My only 
pride left was the miserable pride of indifference. So long as 
I pursued my profession, the place in which I pursued it was a 
matter of no importance to my mind. 

It was long before we could persuade my mother even to con- 
template the new prospect now set before me. When she did 
at length give way, she yielded most unwillingly. I confess I 
left her with the tears in my eyes the first I had shed for many 
a long year past. 

The history of our expedition is part of the history of British 
India : it has no place in this narrative. 

Speaking personally, I have to record that I was rendered in- 
capable of performing my professional duties in less than a 
week from the time when the mission reached its destination. 
We were encamped outside the city ; and an attack was made 
on us, under cover of darkness, by the fanatical natives. The 



48 The Two Destinies. 

attempt was defeated with little difficulty, and with only a 
trifling loss on our side. I was among the wounded having 
been struck by a javelin, or spear, while I was passing from one 
tent to another. 

Inflicted by an European weapon, my injury would have been 
of no serious consequence. But the tip of the Indian spear 
had been poisoned. I escaped the mortal danger of " lock-jaw " 
but, through some peculiarity in the action of the poison on 
my constitution (which I am quite unable to explain), my wound 
obstinately refused to heal. 

I was invalided, and sent to Calcutta, where the best surgi- 
cal help was at my disposal. To all appearance, the wound 
healed here then broke out again. Twice this happened ; 
and the medical men agreed that the best course to take would 
be to send me home. They calculated on the invigorating effect 
of the sea voyage, and, failing this, on the salutary influence of 
my native air. In the Indian climate, I was pronounced in- 
curable. 

Two days before the ship sailed, a letter from my mother 
brought me startling news. My life to come if I had a life to 
come had been turned into a new channel. Mr. Germaine 
had died suddenly of heart disease. His will, bearing date at 
the time when I left England, bequeathed an income for life to 
my mother, and left the bulk of his property to me : on the 
one condition that I adopted his name. I accepted the condi- 
tion, of course and became George Germaine. 

Three months later, my mother and I were restored to each 
other. 

Except that I still had some trouble with my wound, behold 
me now to all appearance one of the most enviable of existing 



Ten Years of my Life. 



mortals : promoted to the position of a wealthy gentleman ; 
possessor of a house in London, and of a country seat in Perth- 
shire and nevertheless, at twenty-three years of age, one of 
the most miserable men living ! 

And Mary 1 

In the ten years that had now passed, what had become of 
Mary? 

You have heard my story. Read the few pages that follow, 
and you will hear hers. 




CHAPTER VI. 

TEN YEARS OF HER LIFE. 

I have now to tell you of Mary, is derived 
from information obtained at a date in my life 
later by many years than any date of which I 
have written yet. Be pleased to remember this. 
Dermody the bailiff possessed relatives in Lon- 
don of whom he occasionally spoke ; and rela- 
tives in Scotland whom he never mentioned. My father had 
a strong prejudice against the Scotch nation. Dermody knew 
his master well enough to be aware that the prejudice might 
extend to him, if he spoke of his Scotch kindred. He was a 
discreet man ; and he never mentioned them. 

On leaving my father's service, he had made his way, partly 
by land and partly by sea, to Glasgow in which city his 
friends resided. With his character and his experience, Der- 
mody was a man in a thousand, to any master who was lucky 
enough to discover him. His friends bestirred themselves. In 
six weeks' time he was placed in charge of a gentleman's estate 
on the eastern coast of Scotland, and was comfortably establish- 
ed with his mother and his daughter in a new home. 

The insulting language which my father had addressed to 
him had sunk deep in Dermody's mind. He wrote privately to 
his relatives in London, telling them that he had found a new 



Ten Years of her Life. 51 

situation which suited him, and that he had his reasons for not 
at present mentioning his address. In this way he baffled the 
inquiries which my mother's lawyers (failing to discover a trace 
of him in other directions) addressed to his London friends. 
Stung by his old master's reproaches, he sacrificed his daughter 
and he sacrificed me partly to his own sense of self-respect ; 
partly to his conviction that the difference between us in rank 
made it his duty to check all further intercourse before it was 
too late. 

Buried in their retirement in a remote part of Scotland, the 
little household lived, lost to me, and lost to the world. 

In dreams, I had seen and heard Mary. In dreams, Mary 
saw and heard me. The innocent longings and wishes which 
filled my heart while I was still a boy, were revealed to her in 
the mystery of sleep. Her grandmother, holding firmly to her 
faith in the predestined union between us, sustained the girl's 
courage and cheered her heart. She could hear her father say 
(as my father had said) that we were parted to meet no more, 
and could privately think of her happy dreams as the sufficient 
promise of another future than the future which Dermody con- 
templated. So she still lived with me in the spirit and lived 
in hope. 

The first affliction that befel the little household was the 
death of the grandmother, by the exhaustion of extreme old 
age. In her last conscious moments, she said to Mary, " Never 
forget that you and George are spirits consecrated to each other. 
Wait in the certain knowledge that no human power can hin- 
der your union in the time to come." 

While those words were still vividly present to Mary's mind, 
our visionary union by dreams was abruptly broken on her 



52 The Two Destinies. 

side, as it had been abruptly broken on mine. In the first 
days of my self-degradation I had ceased to see Mary. Exactly 
at the same period, Mary ceased to see me. 

The girl's sensitive nature sank under the shock. She had 
now no elder woman to comfort and advise her; she lived 
alone with her father, who invariably changed the subject when- 
ever she spoke of the old times. The secret sorrow that preys 
on body and mind alike, preyed on her. A cold, caught at the 
inclement season, turned to fever. For weeks she was in dan- 
ger of death. When she recovered, her head had been stripped 
of its beautiful hair by the doctor's order. The sacrifice had 
been necessary to save her life. It proved to be, in one respect, 
a cruel sacrifice her hair never grew plentifully again. When 
it did reappear, it had completely lost its charming mingled 
hues of deep red and brown ; it was now of one monotonous 
light brown colour throughout. At first sight, Mary's Scotch 
friends hardly knew her again. 

But Nature made amends for what the head had lost, by 
what the face and the figure gained. 

In a year from the date of her illness, the frail little child of 
the old days at Greenwater Broad, had ripened in the bracing 
Scotch air and the healthy mode of life, into a comely young 
woman. Her features were still, as in her early years, not re- 
gularly beautiful ; but the change in her was not the less mark- 
ed on that account. The wan face had filled out, and the pale 
complexion had found its colour. As to her figure, its remark- 
able development was perceived even by the rough people about 
her. Promising nothing when she was a child, it had now 
sprung into womanly fulness, symmetry and grace it was a 
strikingly beautiful figure, in the strictest sense of the word. 



Ten Years of her Life. 53 

Morally as well as physically, there were moments, a* this 
period of their lives, when even her own father hardly recog- 
nised his daughter of former days. She had lost her childish 
vivacity her sweet equable flow of good humour. Silent and 
self-absorbed, she went through the daily routine of her duties,, 
enduringly. The hope of meeting me again had sunk to a dead 
hope in her by this time. She made no complaint. The bodily 
strength that she had gained in these later days had its sympa- 
thetic influence in steadying her mind. When her father once 
or twice ventured to ask if she was still thinking of me, she 
answered quietly that she had brought herself to share his 
opinions. She could not doubt that I had long since ceased to 
think of her. Even if I had remained faithful to her, she was 
old enough now to know that the difference between us in rank 
made our union by marriage an impossibility. It would be best 
(she thought) not to refer any more to the past best to forget 
me, as I had forgotten her. So she spoke now. So, tried by 
the test of appearances, Dame Dermody's confident forecast of 
our destinies had failed to justify itself, and had taken its place 
among the predictions that are never fulfilled. 

The next notable event in the family annals which followed 
Mary's illness happened when she had attained the age of 
nineteen years. Even at this distance of time, my heart sinks, 
my courage fails me, at the critical stage in my narrative which 
I have now reached. 

A storm of unusual severity burst over the eastern coast of 
Scotland. Among the ships that were lost in the tempest was 
a vessel bound from Holland, which was wrecked on the rocky 
shore near Dermody's place of abode. Leading the way in all 
good actions, the bailiff led the way in rescuing the passengers 



54 The Two Destinies. 

and crew of the lost ship. He had brought one man alive to 
land, and was on his way back to the vessel, when two heavy 
seas, following in close succession, dashed him against the rocks. 
He was rescued, at the risk of their own lives, by his neighbours. 
The medical examination disclosed a broken bone, and severe 
bruises and lacerations. So far, Dermody's sufferings were 
easy of relief. But, after a lapse of time, symptoms appeared 
in the patient which revealed to his medical attendant the 
presence of serious internal injury. In the doctor's opinion 
he could never hope to resume the active habits of his life. 
He would be an invalided and a crippled man for the rest of his 
days. 

Under these melancholy circumstances the bailiff's employer 
did all that could be strictly expected of him. He hired an 
assistant to undertake the supervision of the farrnwork ; and he 
permitted Dermody to occupy his cottage for the next three 
months. This concession gave the poor man time to recover 
such relics of strength as were still left to him, and to consult 
his friends in Glasgow on the doubtful question of his life to 
come. 

The prospect was a serious one. Dermody was quite unfit 
for any sedentary employment ; and the little money that he 
had saved was not enough to support his daughter and himself. 
The Scotch friends were willing and kind ; but they had do- 
mestic claims on them, and they had no money to spare. 

In this emergency, the passenger in the wrecked vessel 
(whose life Dermody had saved) came forward with a proposal 
which took father and daughter alike by surprise. He made 
Mary an 6ffer of marriage, on the express understanding (if 



Ten Years of her Life. 55 

she accepted him) that her home was to be her father's home 
also, to the end of his life. 

The person who thus associated himself with the Dermodys 
in the time of their trouble, was a -Dutch gentleman, named 
Ernest Van Brandt. He possessed a share in the fishing es- 
tablishment on the shores of the Zuyder Zee ; and he was on 
his way to establish a correspondence with the fisheries in the 
north of Scotland when the vessel was wrecked. Mary had 
produced a strong impression on him when they first met. He 
had lingered in the neighbourhood, in the hope of gaining her 
favourable regard with time to help him. Personally, he was 
a handsome man, in the prime of life ; and he was possessed of 
a sufficient income to marry on. In making his proposal he 
produced references to persons of high social position in Hol- 
land, who could answer for him, so far as the questions of char- 
acter and position were concerned. 

Mary was long in considering which course it would be best 
for her helpless father, and best for herself, to adopt. 

The hope of a marriage with me had been a hope abandoned 
by her years since. No woman looks forward willingly to a 
life of cheerless celibacy. In thinking of her future, Mary na- 
turally thought of herself in the character of a wife. Could she 
fairly expect, in the time to come, to receive any more attrac- 
tive proposal than the proposal now addressed to her ? Mr. 
Van Brandt had every personal advantage that a woman could 
desire : he was devotedly in love with her ; and he felt a grate- 
ful affection for her father, as the man to whom he owed his 
life. With no other hope" in her heart with no other pros- 
pect in view what could she do better than marry Mr. Van 
Brandt 1 



56 The Two Destinies. 

Influenced by these considerations, she decided on speaking 
the fatal word. She said, Yes. 

At the same time, she spoke plainly to Mr. Van Brandt ; un- 
reservedly acknowledging that she had contemplated another 
future than the future now set before her. She did not conceal 
that there had been an old love in her heart, and that a new 
love was more than she could command. Esteem, gratitude, 
and regard she could honestly offer and, with time, love might 
come. For the rest, she had long since disassociated herself 
from the past, and had definitely given up all the hopes and 
wishes once connected with it. Repose for her father, and 
tranquil happiness for herself, were the only favours that she 
asked of fortune now. These she might find under the roof 
of an honourable man who loved and respected her. She could 
promise, on her side, to make him a good and faithful wife, if 
she could promise no more. It rested with Mr. Van Brandt 
to say whether he really believed that he would be consulting 
his own happiness in marrying her on these terms. 

Mr. Van Brandt accepted the terms without a moment's 
hesitation. 

They would have been married immediately but for an 
alarming change for the worse in the condition of Dermody's 
health. Symptoms showed themselves which the doctor con- 
fessed that he had not anticipated when he had given his 
opinion on the case. He warned Mary that the end might be 
near, A physician was summoned from Edinburgh, at Mr. Van 
Brandt's expense. He confirmed the opinion entertained by 
the country doctor. For some days longer the good bailiff lin- 
gered. On the last morning, he put his daughter's hand in 
Van Brandt's hand. " Make her happy, sir," he said, in his 



Ten Years of her Life. 57 

simple way ; " and you will be even with me for saving your 
life." The same day, he died quietly in his daughter's arms. 

Mary's future was now entirely in her lover's hands. The 
relatives in Glasgow had daughters of their own to provide for. 
The relatives in London resented Dermody's neglect of them. 
Yan Brandt waited delicately and considerately, until the first 
violence of the girl's grief had worn itself out and then he 
pleaded irresistibly for a husband's claim to console her. 

The time at which they were married in Scotland was also 
the time at which I was on my way home from India. Mary 
had then reached the age of twenty years. 

The story of our ten years' separation is now told : the nar- 
rative leaves us at the outset of our new lives. 

I am with my mother, beginning my career as a country gen- 
tleman on the estate in Perthshire which I have inherited from 
Mr. Germaine. Mary is with her husband, enjoying her new 
privileges, learning her new duties, as a wife. She too is living 
in Scotland living, by a strange fatality, not very far distant 
from my country house. I have no suspicion that she is so 
near to me : the name of Mrs. Van Brandt (even if I had heard 
it) appeals to no familiar associations in my mind. Still, the 
kindred spirits are parted. Still, there is no idea on her side, 
and no idea on mine, that we shall ever meet again. 






CHAPTER VII. 

THE WOMAN ON THE BRIDGE. 

Y mother looked in at the library door, and dis- 
turbed me over my books. 

"I have been hanging a little picture in 
my room," she said. " Come upstairs, my dear, 
and give me your opinion of it." 

I rose and followed her. She pointed to a 
miniature portrait hanging above the mantelpiece. 

" Do you know whose likeness that is 1 " she asked half sadly, 
half playfully. " George ! do you really not recognise your- 
self at thirteen years old ? " 

How should 1 recognise myself 1 Worn by sickness and sor- 
row ; browned by the sun, on my long homeward voyage ; my 
hair already growing thin over my forehead, my eyes already 
habituated to their one sad and weary look what had I in 
common with the fair, plump, curly-headed, bright-eyed boy 
who confronted me in the miniature ? The mere sight of the 
portrait produced the most extraordinary effect on my mind. 
It struck me with an overwhelming melancholy ; it filled me 
with a despair of myself too dreadful to be endured. Making 
the best excuse I could to my mother, I left the room. In 
another minute I was out of the house. 



The Woman on the Bridge. 59 

I crossed the park, and left my own possessions behind me. 
Following a by-road I came to our well-known river so beau- 
tiful in itself, so famous among trout-fishers throughout Scot- 
land. It was not then the fishing season. No human being 
was in sight as I took my seat on the bank. The old stone 
bridge which spanned the stream was within a hundred yards 
of me ; the setting sun still tinged the swift-flowing water un- 
der the arches with its red and dying light. 

Still the boy's face in the miniature pursued me. Still the 
portrait seemed to reproach me, in a merciless language of its 
own : " Look at what you were once think of what you are 
now ! " 

I hid my face in the soft fragrant grass. I thought of the 
wasted years of my life between thirteen and twenty- three. 

How was it to end ? If I lived to the ordinary life of man, 
what prospect had I before me ? 

Love ( \ Marriage ? I burst out laughing as the idea crossed 
my mind. Since the innocently-happy days of my boyhood, I 
had known no more of love than the insect that now crept over 
my hand as it lay on the grass. My money, to be sure, would 
buy me a wife ; but would my money make her dear to me 1 
dear as Mary had once been, in the golden time when my por- 
trait was first painted ? 

Mary ! Was she still living *? Was she married ? Should 
I know her again if I saw her 1 Absurd ! I had not seen her 
since she was ten years old : she was now a woman, as I was a 
man. Would she know me, if we met? The portrait, still 
pursuing me, answered the question : " Look at what you were 
once think of what you are now." 



60 The Two Destinies. 

I rose and walked backwards and forwards, and tried to turn 
the current of my thoughts in some new direction. 

It was not to be done. After a banishment of years. Mary 
had got back again into my mind. I sat down once more on 
the river-bank. The sun was sinking fast. Black shadows 
hovered under the arches of the old stone bridge. The red 
light had faded from the swift-flowing water, and had left it 
overspread with one monotonous hue of steely grey. The first 
stars looked down peacefully from the cloudless sky. The first 
shiverings of the night-breeze were audible among the trees, 
and visible here and there in the shallow places of the stream. 
And still, the darker it grew, the more persistently my por- 
trait led me back to the past the more vividly the long lost 
image of the child Mary showed itself to me in my thoughts. 

Was this the prelude to her coming back to me in dreams 
in her perfected womanhood, in the young prime of her life <[ 

It might be so. 

I was no longer unworthy of her, as I had once been. The 
effect produced on me by the sight of my portrait was in itself 
due to moral and mental changes in me for the better, which 
had been steadily proceeding since the time when my wound 
had laid me helpless among strangers in a strange land. Sick- 
ness, which has made itself teacher and friend to many a man, 
had made itself teacher and friend to me. I looked back with 
horror at the vices of my youth at the fruitless after- days 
when I had impiously doubted all that is most noble, all that is 
most consoling in human life. Consecrated by sorrow, purified 
by repentance, was it vain in me to hope that her spirit and my 
spirit might yet be united again 1 Who could tell 1 

I rose once more. It could serve no good purpose tolinger 



The Woman on the Bridge. 61 

until night by the banks of the river. I had left the house, 
feeling the impulse which drives us, in certain excited conditions 
of the mind, to take refuge in movement and change. The 
remedy had failed ; my mind was as strangely disturbed as 
ever. My wisest course would be to go home, and keep my 
good mother company over her favourite game of piquet. 

I turned to take the road back and stopped, struck by the 
tranquil beauty of the last faint light in the western sky, shin- 
ing behind the black line formed by the parapet of the bridge. 

In the grand gathering of the night shadows, in the deep 
stillness of the dying day, I stood alone, and watched the sink- 
ing light. 

As I looked, there came a change over the scene. Suddenly 
and softly, a living figure glided into view on the bridge. It 
passed behind the black line of the parapet, in the last long 
rays of the western light. It crossed the bridge. It paused, 
and crossed back again half way. Then it stopped. The 
minutes passed and there the figure stood, a motionless black 
object, behind the black parapet of the bridge. 

I advanced a little, moving near enough to obtain a closer 
view of the dress in which the figure was attired. The dress 
showed me that the solitary stranger was a woman. 

She did not notice me, in the shadow which the trees cast on 
the bank. She stood, with her arms folded in her cloak, look- 
ing down at the darkening river. 

Why was she waiting there, at the close of evening, alone 1 

As the question occurred to me, I saw her head move. She 
looked along the bridge, first on one side of her, then on the 
other. Was she waiting for some person who was to meet her ? 



62 The Two Destinies. 

Or was she suspicious of observation, and anxious to make 
sure that she was alone 1 

A sudden doubt of her purpose in seeking that solitary place 
a sudden distrust of the lonely bridge and the swift-flowing 
river set my heart beating quickly, and roused me to instant 
action. I hurried up the rising ground which led from the 
river bank to the bridge ; determined on speaking to her, while 
the opportunity was still mine. 

She neither saw nor heard me until I was close to her. I 
approached with an irrepressible feeling of agitation ; not know- 
ing how she might receive me when I spoke to her. The mo- 
ment she turned and faced me, my composure came back. It 
was as if, expecting to see a stranger, I had unexpectedly en- 
countered a friend. 

And yet she was a stranger. I had never before looked on 
that grave and noble face, on that grand figure whose exquisite 
grace and symmetry even her long cloak could not wholly hide. 
She was not, perhaps, a strictly beautiful woman. There were 
defects in her which were sufficiently marked to show them- 
selves in the fading light. Her hair, for example, seen under 
the large garden hat that she wore, looked almost as short as 
the hair of a man ; and the colour of it was of that dull lustre- 
less brown hue which is so commonly seen in Englishwomen 
of the ordinary type. Still, in spite of these drawbacks, there 
was a latent charm in her expression, there was an inbred fas- 
cination in her manner, which instantly found its way to my 
sympathies, and its hold on my admiration. She won me, in 
the moment when I first looked at her. 

" May I inquire if you have lost your way 1 " I asked. 

Her eyes rested on my face with a strange look of inquiry in 



The Woman on the Bridge. 63 

them. She did not appear to be surprised or confused at my 
venturing to address her. 

" I know this part of the country well," I went on. " Can 
I be of any use to you 1 " 

She still looked at me with steady inquiring eyes. For a 
moment, stranger as I was, my face seemed to trouble her as if 
it had been a face that she had seen and forgotten again. If 
she really had this idea, she at once dismissed it with a little 
toss of her head, and looked away at the river, as if she felt 
no further interest in me. 

" Thank you. I have nob lost my way. I am accustomed 
to walking alone. Good evening." 

She spoke coldly, but courteously. Her voice was delicious j 
her bow as she left me was the perfection of unaffected grace. 
She left the bridge on the side by which I had first seen her 
approach it, and walked slowly away along the darkening track 
of the high road. 

Still I was not quite satisfied. There was something under- 
lying the charming expression, and the fascinating manner, 
which my instinct felt to be something wrong. As I walked 
away towards the opposite end of the bridge, the doubt began 
to grow on me whether she had spoken the truth. In leaving 
the neighbourhood of the river, was she simply trying to get 
rid of me 1 

I resolved to put this suspicion of her to the test. Leaving the 
bridge I had only to cross the road beyond, and to enter a planta- 
tion on the bank of the river. Here, concealed behind the first 
tree which was large enough to hide me, I could command a view 
of thefbrid^e, and I could fairly count on detecting her, if she 
returned to the river, while there was a ray of light to see her 



64 The Two Destinies. 

by. It was not easy walking in the obscurity of the planta- 
tion ; I had almost to grope my way to the nearest tree that 
suited my purpose. 

I had just steadied my foothold on the uneven ground 
behind the tree, when the stillness of the twilight hour was 
suddenly broken by the distant sound of a voice. 

The voice was a woman's. It was not raised to any high 
pitch ; its accent was the accent of prayer and the words it 
uttered were these : 

" Christ have mercy on me ! " 

There was silence again. A nameless fear crept over me as 
I looked out on the bridge. 

She was standing on the parapet. Before I could move, 
before I could cry out, before I could even breathe again 
freely, she leapt into the river. 

The current ran my way. I could see her as she rose to 
the surface, floating by in the light on the mid-stream. I ran 
headlong down the bank. She sank again in the moment 
when I stopped to throw aside my hat and coat, and to kick 
off my shoes. I was a practised swimmer. The instant I was 
in the water my composure came back to me I felt like my- 
self again. 

The current swept me out into the mid-stream, and greatly 
increased the speed at which I swam. I was close behind 
her when she rose for the second time a shadowy thing just 
visible a few inches below the surface of the river. One more 
stroke, and my left arm was around her ; I had her face out 
of the water. She was insensible. I could hold her in the right 
way to leave me master of all my movements ; I could devote 



Tke Woman on the Bridge. 65 

myself, without flurry or fatigue, to the exertion of taking her 
back to the shore. 

My first attempt satisfied me that there was no reasonable 
hope, burdened as I now was, of breasting the strong current 
running towards the mid-river from either bank. I tried it 
on one side, and I tried it on the other and gave it up. The 
one choice left was to let myself drift with her down the stream. 
Some fifty yards lower, the river took a turn round a pro- 
montory of land, on which stood a little inn, much frequented 
by anglers in the season. As we approached the place, I made 
another attempt (again an attempt in vain) to reach the shore. 
Our last chance now was to be heard by the people of the inn. 
I shouted at the full pitch of my voice as we drifted past. The 
cry was answered. A man put off in a boat. In five minutes 
more I had her safe on the bank again ; and the man and I 
were carrying her to the inn by the river side. 

The landlady and her servant-girl were equally willing to be 
of service, and equally ignorant of what they were to do. For- 
tunately, my medical education made me competent to direct 
them. A good fire, warm blankets, hot-water in bottles, were 
all at my disposal. I showed the women myself how to ply 
the work of revival. They persevered, and I persevered ; and, 
still, there she^lay in her perfect beauty of form, without a 
sign of life perceptible there she lay, to all outward appear- 
ance, dead by drowning. 

A last hope was left the hope of restoring her (if I could 
construct the apparatus in time) by the process called " artifi- 
cial respiration." I was just endeavouring to tell the landlady 
what I wanted, and was just conscious of a strange difficulty 



66 The Two Destinies. 

in expressing myself, when the good woman started back, 
and looked at me, with a scream of terror. 

" Good God, sir, you're bleeding ! " she cried. " What's 
the matter ? where are you hurt ? " 

In the moment when she spoke to me I knew what had hap- 
pened. The old Indian wound (irritated doubtless by the 
violent exertion that I had imposed on myself) had opened again. 
I struggled against the sudden sense of faintness that seized 
on me ; I tried to tell the people of the inn what to do. It was 
useless. I dropped to my knees ; my head sank on the bosom 
of the woman stretched senseless upon the low couch beneath 
me. The death-in-life that had got her had got me. Lost to 
the world about us, we lay with my blood flowing on her, 
united in our deathly trance ! 

Where were our spirits at that moment 1 Were they to- 
gether, and conscious of each other ? United by a spiritual 
bond, undiscovered and unsuspected by us in the flesh, did 
we two, who had met as strangers on the fatal bridge, know 
each other again in the trance ? You who have loved and 
lost you whose one consolation it has been to believe in other 
worlds than this can you turn from my questions in contempt ? 
can you honestly say that they have never been your questions, 
too? 




CHAPTER VIII. 

THE KINDRED SPIRITS. 

HE morning sunlight, shining in at a badly-cur- 
tained window ; a clumsy wooden bed, with big 
twisted posts that reached to the ceiling ; on one 
side of the bed my mother's welcome face ; on the 
other side, an elderly gentleman, unremembered by 
me at that moment such were the objects that 
presented themselves to my view when I first consciously 
returned to the world that we live in. 

" Look, doctor, look ! he has come to his senses at last." 
" Open your mouth, sir, and take a sup of this." 
My mother was rejoicing over me on one side of the bed ; 
and the unknown gentleman, addressed as " doctor," was 
offering me a spoonful of whiskey and water on the other. He 
called it the " elixir of life ; " and he bade me remark (speaking 
in a strong Scotch accent) that he tasted it himself to show he 
was in earnest. 

The stimulant did its good work. My head felt less giddy ; 
my mind became clearer. I could speak collectedly to my 
mother ; I could vaguely recall the more marked events of the 
previous evening. A minute or two more, and the image of 
the person in whom those events had all centred became a liv- 



68 The Two Destinies. 

ing image in my memory. I tried to raise myself in the bed ; 
I asked impatiently, " Where is she 1 " 

The doctor produced another spoonful of the elixir of life, 
and gravely repeated his first address to me : 

" Open your mouth, sir, and take a sup of this." 

I persisted in repeating my question : 

" Where is she 1 " 

The doctor persisted in repeating his formula : 

"Take a sup of this." 

I was too weak to contest the matter I obeyed. My medi- 
cal attendant nodded across the bed to my mother, and said, 
l( Now he'll do. ;J My mother had some compassion on me : 
she relieved my anxiety in these plain words : 

" The lady has quite recovered, George ; thanks to the doc- 
tor here." 

I looked at my professional colleague with a new interest. 
He was the legitimate fountain-head of the information that I 
was dying to have poured into my mind. 

" How did you revive her 1 " I asked. " Where is she now 1 " 

The doctor held up his hand ; warning me to stop. 

" We shall do well, sir, if we proceed systematically,'' he be- 
gan, in a very positive manner. " You will understand that 
every time you open your mouth, it will be to take a sup of this 
and not to speak. I shall tell you in due course, and the 
good lady your mother will tell you, all that you have any need 
to know. As I happen to have been first on what you may call 
the scene of action, it stands in the fit order of things that I 
should speak first. You will just permit me to mix a little 
more of the elixir of life and then, as the poet says, my plain 
unvarnished tale I shall deliver." 



Tke Kindred Spirits. 69 

So he spoke, pronouncing, in a strong Scotch accent, the most 
carefully selected English I had ever heard. A hard-headed, 
square-shouldered, pertinaciously-self- willed man, it was plainly 
useless to contend with him. I turned to my mother's gentle 
face for encouragement, and I let my doctor have his own way. 

" My name," he proceeded, " is MacGlue. I had the honour 
of presenting my respects at your house yonder, when you first 
came to live in this neighbourhood. You don't remember me 
at present, which is natural enough in the unbalanced condi- 
tion of your mind ; consequent, you will understand (as a pro- 
fessional person yourself), on copious loss of blood." 

There my patience gave way. 

"Never mind me," I interposed. "Tell me about the 
lady." 

" You have opened your mouth, sir ! " cried Mr. MacGlue 
severely. " You know the penalty take a sup of this. I told 
you we should proceed systematically," he went on, after he 
had forced me to submit to the penalty. " Everything in its 
place, Mr. G-ermaine ; everything in its place. I was speaking 
of your bodily condition. Well, sir, and how did I discover 
your bodily condition ? Providentially for you, I was driving 
home, yesterday evening, by the lower road (which is the road 
by the river-bank ) ; and, drawing near to the inn here (they 
call it an hotel : it's nothing but an inn), I heard the screech- 
ing of the landlady half a mile off. A good woman enough, 
you will understand, as times go ; but a poor creature in an 
emergency. Keep still ; I'm coming to it now. Well, I went 
in to see if the screeching related to anything wanted in the 
medical way ; and there I found you and the stranger lady 
in a position which I may truthfully describe as standing in 



70 The Two Destinies. 

some need of improvement on the score of propriety. Tut ! 
tut ! I speak jocosely you were both in a dead swoon. 
Having heard what the landlady had to tell me, and having 
to the best of my ability separated history from hysterics, in 
the course of the woman's narrative, I found myself, as it were, 
placed between two laws. The law of gallantry, you see, 
pointed to the lady as the first object of my professional ser- 
vices while the law of humanity (seeing that you were still 
bleeding) pointed no Jess imperatively to you. I am no longer 
a young man I left the lady to wait. My word ! it was no 
light matter, Mr. Germaine, to deal with your case, and get 
you carried up here out of the way. That old wound of yours, 
sir, is not to be trifled with. I bid you beware how you open 
it again. The next time you go out for an evening walk, and 
you see a lady in the water, you will do well for your own 
health to leave her there. What's that I see 1 Are you open- 
ing your mouth again ? Do you want another sup already 1 " 

" He wants to hear more about the lady," said my mother, 
interpreting my wishes for me. 

" Oh, the lady," resumed Mr. MacGlue, with the air of a 
man who found no great attraction in the subject proposed to 
him. " There's not much that I know of to be said about the 
lady. A fine woman, no doubt. If you could strip the flesh 
off her bones, you would find a splendid skeleton underneath. 
For, mind this ! there's no such thing as a finely-made woman, 
without a good bony scaffolding to build her on at starting. 
I don't think much of this lady morally speaking, you will 
understand. If I may be permitted to say so, in your pre- 
sence, ma'am, there's a man in the background of that dra- 
matic scene of hers on the bridge. However not being the 



'I he Kindred Spirits. 71 

man myself I have nothing to do with that. My business 
with the lady was just to set her vital machinery going again. 
And, Heaven knows, she proved a heavy handful ! It was 
even a more obstinate case to deal with, sir, than yours. I 
never, in all my experience, met with two people more un- 
willing to come back to this world and its troubles than you 
two were. And when I had done the business at last, when 
I was well-nigh swooning myself with the work and the worry 
of it, guess I give you leave to speak for this once guess 
what were the first words the lady said to me, when she came 
to herself again." 

I was too much excited to be able to exercise my ingenuity. 
" I give it up ! " I said impatiently. 

"You may well give it up," remarked]Mr. MacGlue. "The 
first words she addressed, sir, to the man who had dragged her 
out of the very jaws of death, were these : ' How dare you med- 
dle with me \ Why didn't you leave me to die 1 ' Her exact 
language I'll take my Bible oath of it. I was so provoked 
that I gave her the change back (as the saying is) in her own 
coin. ' There's the river handy, ma'am,' I said. ' Do it again. 
I, for one, won't stir a hand to save you ; I promise you that.' 
She looked up sharply. ' Are you the man who took me out of 
the river ? ; she said. ' God forbid ! ' says I. ' I'm only the 
doctor who was fool enough to meddle with you afterwards.' 
She turned to the landlady. ' Who took me out of the river ? 
she asked. The landlady told her and mentioned your name. 
' Germaine 1 ' she says to herself ; I know nobody named Ger- 
maine ; I wonder whether it was the man who spoke to me on 
the bridge 1 ?' ' Yes,' says the landlady; 'Mr. Germaine said 
he met you on the bridge.' Hearing that, she took a little 



72 The Two Destinies. 

time to think ; and then she asked if she could see Mr. Ger- 
maine. ' Whoever he is/ she says, ' he has risked his life to 
save me : and I ought to thank him for doing that.' 'You can't 
thank him to-night' I said ; ' I've got him upstairs between life 
and death ; and I've sent for his mother : wait till to-morrow.' 
She turned on me, looking half frightened, half angry. ' I can't 
wait,' she says ; l you don't know what you have done among 
you in bringing me back to life ; I must leave this neighbour- 
hood ; I must be out of Perthshire to-morrow ; when does the 
first coach southward pass this way ? ' Having nothing to do 
with the first coach southward, I referred her to the people of 
the inn. My business (now I had done with the lady) was up- 
stairs in this room, to see how you were getting on. You were 
getting on as well as I could wish ; and your good mother was 
at your bedside. I went home, to see what sick people might 
be waiting for me in the regular way. When I came back this 
morning, there was the foolish landlady with a new tale to 
tell. ' Gone ! ' says she. ' Who's gone 1 ' says I. ' The lady, 
says she ; ' by the first coach this morning ! ' ' 

" You don't mean to tell me that she has left the house 1 " I 
exclaimed. 

" Oh, but I do ! " said the doctor as positively as ever. " Ask 
madam your mother here, and she'll certify it to your heart's 
content. I've got other sick ones to visit and I'm away on 
my rounds. You'll see no more of the lady ; and so much the 
better, I'm thinking ! In two hours' time I'll be back again ; 
and, if I don't find you the worse in the interim, I'll see about 
having you transported from this strange place to the snug bed 
that knows you at home. Don't let him talk, ma'am don't 
let him talk ! " 



The Kindred Spirits. 73 

With those parting words, Mr. MacGlue left us to ourselves. 

" Is it really true ? " I said to my mother. " Has she left 
the inn without waiting to see me 1 " 

"Nobody could stop her, George," my mother answered. 
" The lady left the inn this morning by the coach to Edin- 
burgh." 

I was bitterly disappointed. Yes ! " bitterly " is the word 
though she was a stranger to me. 

" Did you see her yourself ? " I asked. 

" I saw her for a few minutes, my dear, on my way up to 
your room." 

"What did she say r 

" She begged me to make her excuses to you. She said, 
' Tell Mr. Germaine that my situation is dreadful : no human 
creature can help me. I must go away. My old life is as much 
at an end, as if your son had left me to drown in the river. I 
must find a new life for myself, in a new place. Ask Mr. Ger- 
maine to forgive me for going away without thanking him. I 
daren't wait ! I may be followed and found out. There is a 
person whom I am determined never to see again never ! 
never! never! Good-bye; and try to forgive me.' She hid 
her face in her hands, and said no more. 1 tried to win her 
confidence it was not to be done ; I was obliged to leave her. 
There is some dreadful calamity, George, in that wretched 
woman's life. And such an interesting creature, too ! It was 
impossible not to pity her, whether she deserves it or not. 
Everything about her is a mystery, my dear. She speaks Eng- 
lish without the slightest foreign accent and yet she has a 
foreign name." 

" Did she give you her name ? " 



74 The Two Destinies. 

" No and I was afraid to ask her to give it. But the land- 
lady here is not a very scrupulous person. She told me she 
looked at the poor creature's linen, while it was drying by the 
fire. The name marked on it was ' Van Brandt.' " 

" Van Brandt ? " I repeated. u That sounds like a Dutch 
name. And yet you say she spoke like an Englishwoman. 
Perhaps she was born in England." 

" Or perhaps she may be married," suggested my mother ; 
" and Van Brandt may be the name of her husband." 

The idea of her being a married woman had something in it 
repellent to me. I wished my mother had not thought of that 
last suggestion. I refused to receive it ; I persisted in my 
own belief that the stranger was a single woman. In that 
character, I could indulge myself in the luxury of thinking of 
her ; I could consider the chances of my being able to trace 
this charming fugitive who had taken so strong a hold on my 
interest whose desperate attempt at suicide had so nearly 
cost me my own life. 

If she had gone as far as Edinburgh (which she would 
surely do, being bent on avoiding discovery), the prospect of 
finding her again in that great city, and in my present weak 
state of health looked doubtful indeed. Still, there was an 
underlying hopefulness in me which kept my spirits from being 
seriously depressed. I felt a purely imaginary (perhaps I 
ought to say, a purely superstitious) conviction, that we who 
had nearly died together, we who had been brought to life to- 
gether, were surely destined to be involved in some future 
joys or sorrows common to us both ; " I fancy I shall see her 
again," was my last thought before my weakness overpowered 
me, and I sank into a peaceful sleep. 



The Kindred Spirits. 75 

That night I was removed from the inn to my own room at 
home ; and that night I saw her again in a dream. 

The image of her was as vividly impressed upon me as the 
far different image of the child Mary, when I used to see it in 
the days of old. The dream-figure of the woman was robed as 
I had seen it robed on the bridge. She wore the same broad- 
brimmed garden hat of straw. She looked at me as she had 
looked when I approached her in the dim evening light. After 
a little her face brightened with a divinely-beautiful smile, and 
she whispered in my ear : " Friend, do you know me 1 " 

I knew her most assuredly and yet it was with an incom- 
prehensible after-feeling of doubt. Recognising her in my 
dream as the stranger who had so warmly interested me, I was 
nevertheless dissatisfied with myself as if it had not been the 
right recognition. I woke with this idea ; and I slept no 
more that night. 

In three days' time I was strong enough to go out driving 
with my mother, in the comfortable old-fashioned open car- 
riage which had once belonged to Mr. Germaine. 

On the fourth day we arranged to make an excursion to a 
little waterfall in our neighbourhood. My mother had a great 
admiration of the place, and had often expressed a wish to 
possess some memorial of it. I resolved to take my sketch- 
book with me, on the chance that I might be able to please 
her by making a drawing of her favourite scene. 

Searching for the sketch-book (which I had not used for 
years), I found it in an old desk of mine that had remained 
unopened since my departure for India. In the course of my 
investigation, I opened a drawer in the desk, and discovered a 



76 The Two Destinies. 

relic of the old times -my poor little Mary's first work in 
embroidery, the green flag ! 

The sight of the forgotten keepsake took my mind back to 
the bailiff's cottage, and reminded me of Dame Dermody, and 
her confident prediction about Mary and me. 

I smiled as I recalled the old woman's assertion that no hu- 
man power could hinder the union of the kindred spirits of 
the children in time to come. What had become of the pro- 
phesied dreams in which we were to communicate with each 
other through the term of our separation ? Years had passed ; 
and, sleeping or waking, I had seen nothing of Mary. Years 
had passed ; and the first vision of a woman that had come to 
me had been my dream, a few nights since, of the stranger 
whom I had saved from drowning ! I thought of these chances 
and changes in my life but not contemptuously or bitterly. 
The new love that was now stealing its way into my heart had 
softened and humanized me. I said to myself, " Ah, poor little 
Mary ! " and I kissed the green flag, in grateful memory of 
the days that were gone for ever. 

We drove to the waterfall. 

It was a beautiful day : the lonely sylvan scene was at its 
brightest and best. A wooden summer-house, commanding a 
prospect of the falling stream, had been built for the accommo- 
dation of pleasure-parties by the proprietor of the place. My 
mother suggested that I should try to make a sketch of the 
view from this point. I did my best to please her ; but I was 
not satisfied with the result ; and I abandoned my drawing be- 
fore it was half finished. Leaving my sketch-book and pencil 
on the table of the summer-house, I proposed to my mother to 
cross the little wooden bridge which spanned the stream below 



The Kindred Spirits, 77 

the fall, and to see how the landscape looked from a new point 
of view. 

The prospect of the waterfall, as seen from the opposite 
bank, presented even greater difficulties, to an amateur artist 
like me, than the prospect which we had just left. We re- 
turned to the summer-house. 

I was the first to approach the open door. I stopped, checked 
in my advance by an unexpected discovery. The summer- 
house was no longer empty, as we had left it. A lady was 
seated at the table, with my pencil in her hand, writing in my 
sketch-book ! 

After waiting a moment I advanced a few steps nearer to the 
door, and stopped again, in breathless amazement. The stran- 
ger in the summer-house was now plainly revealed to me as the 
woman who had attempted to destroy herself from the bridge ! 

There was no doubt about it. There was the dress : there 
was the memorable face which I had seen in the evening light, 
which I had dreamed of only a few nights since ! The woman 
herself I saw her as plainly as I saw the sun shining on the 
waterfall the woman herself ; with my pencil in her hand ; 
writing in my book ! 

My mother was close behind me : she noticed my agitation. 
" George ! " she exclaimed, " what is the matter with you 1 " 

I pointed through the open door of the summer-house. 

" Well 1 " said my mother. " What am I to look at 1 " 

" Don't you see somebody, sitting at the table and writing 
in my sketch-book ] " 

My mother eyed me quickly. " Is he going to be ill again ? " 
1 ht-ard her say to herself. 



78 The Two Destinies. 

At the same moment, the woman laid down the pencil, and 
rose slowly to her feet. 

She looked at me with sorrowful and pleading eyes : she 
lifted her hand, and beckoned me to approach her. I obeyed. 
Moving without conscious will of my own, drawn nearer and 
nearer to her by an irresistible power, I ascended the short 
flight of stairs which led into the summer house. Within a 
few paces of her I stopped. She advanced a step towards me, 
and laid her hand gently on my bosom. Her touch filled me 
with strangely-united sensations of rapture and awe. After a 
while she spoke, in low melodious tones, which mingled in my 
ear with the distant murmur of the falling water, until the 
two sounds became one. I heard in the murmur, I heard in 
the voice, these words : " Remember me. Come to me." Her 
hand dropped from my bosom ; a momentary obscurity passed 
like a flying shadow over the bright daylight in the room. I 
looked for her when the light came back. She was gone. 

My consciousness of passing events returned. 

I saw the lengthening shadows outside, which told me that 
the evening was at hand. I saw the carriage approaching the 
summer-house to take us away. I felt my mother's hand on 
my arm, and heard her voice speaking to me anxiously. I was 
able to reply by a sign, entreating her not to be uneasy about 
me but I could do no more. I was absorbed, body and soul, in 
the one desire to look at the sketch book. As certainly as I 
had seen the woman so certainly I had seen her with my 
pencil in her hand, writing in my book. 

I advanced to the table on which the book was lying open. 
I looked at the blank space on the lower part of the page, 



The Kindred Spirits. 79 

under the foreground lines of my unfinished drawing. My 
mother, following me, looked at the page too. 

There was the writing ! The woman had disappeared but 
there were her written words left behind her : visible to my 
mother as well as to me : readable by my mother's eyes as 
well as by mine ! 

These were the words we saw ; arranged in two lines, as I 
copy them here : 

WHEN THE FULL MOON SHINES 
ON SAINT ANTHONY'S WELL. 




CHAPTER IX. 




NATURAL AND SUPERNATURAL. 

POINTED to the writing in the sketch-book, and 
looked at my mother. I was not mistaken. She 
had seen it, as I had seen it. But she refused to ac- 
knowledge that anything had happened to alarm 
her plainly as I could detect it in her face. 

" Somebody has been playing a trick on you, 
George," she said. 

I made no reply. It was needless to say anything. My poor 
mother was evidently as far from being satisfied with her own 
shallow explanation as I was. The carriage waited for us at 
the door. We set forth in silence on our drive home. 

The sketch-book lay open on my knee. My eyes were fast- 
ened on it ; my mind was absorbed in recalling the moment 
when the apparition beckoned me into the summer-house, and 
spoke. Putting the words and the writing together, the con- 
clusion was too plain to be mistaken. The woman whom I had 
saved from drowning had need of me again. 

And this was the same woman who, in her own proper per- 
son, had not hesitated to seize the first opportunity of leaving 
the house in which we had been sheltered together without 
stopping to say one grateful word to the man who had pre- 



Natural and Supernatural. 81 

served her from death ! Four days only had elapsed, since she 
had left me, never (to all appearance) to see me again. And 
now, the ghostly apparition of her had returned, as to a tried 
and trusted friend ; had commanded me to remember her and 
to go to her ; and had provided against all possibility of my 
memory playing me false, by writing the words which invited 
me to meet her " when the full moon shone on Saint Anthony's 
Well." 

What had happened in the interval 1 What did the super- 
natural manner of her communication with me mean 1 What 
ought my next course of action to be 1 

My mother roused me from my reflections. She stretched 
out her hand, and suddenly closed the open book on my knee, 
as if the sight of the writing in it was unendurable to her. 

" Why don't you speak to me, George 1 " she said. " Why 
do you keep your thoughts to yourself?" 

" My mind is lost in confusion," I answered. " I can sug- 
gest nothing and explain nothing. My thoughts are all bent 
on the one question of what I am to do next. On that point 
I believe 1 may say that my mind is made up." I touched the 
sketch-book as I spoke. " Come what may of it," I said, " I 
mean to keep the appointment." 

My mother looked at me as if she doubted the evidence of 
her own senses. 

" He talks as if it was a real thing i " she exclaimed. 
" George ! you don't really believe that you saw somebody in 
the summer-house ? The place was empty. I tell you posi- 
tively, when you pointed into the summer-house, the place was 
empty. You have been thinking and thinking of this woman 
till you persuade yourself that you have actually seen her." 



82 The Two Destinies. 

I opened the sketch-book again. " I thought I saw her writ- 
ing on this page," I answered. " Look at it and tell me if I 
was wrong." 

My mother refused to look at it. Steadily as she persisted 
in taking the rational view, nevertheless the writing frightened 
her. 

" It is not a week yet," she went on, " since I saw you lying 
between life and death in your bed at the inn. How can you 
talk of keeping the appointment, in your state of health 1 An 
appointment with a shadowy Something in your own imagina- 
tion, which appears and disappears, and leaves substantial writ- 
ing behind it ! It's ridiculous, George ; I wonder you can help 
laughing at yourself." 

She tried to set the example of laughing at me with the 
tears in her eyes, poor soul, as she made the useless effort. I 
began to regret having opened my mind so freely to her. 

" Don't take the matter too seriously, mother," I said. " Per- 
haps I may not be able to find the place. I never heard of 
Saint Anthony's Well ; I have not the least idea where it is ? 
Suppose I make the discovery and suppose the journey turns 
out to be an easy one would you like to go with me ? " 

" God forbid ! " cried my mother fervently. " I will have 
nothing to do with it, George. You are in a state of delusion 
I shall speak to the doctor." 

"By all means, my dear mother! Mr. MacGlue is a sensible 
person. We pass his house on our way home and we will 
ask him to dinner. In the meantime, let us say no more on 
the subject till we see the doctor." 

I spoke lightly, but I really meant what I said. My mind 
was sadly disturbed; my nerves were so shaken, that the 



Natural and Supernatural. 83 

slightest noises on the road startled me. The opinion of a 
man like Mr. MacGlue, who looked at all mortal matters from 
the same immovably practical point of view, might really have 
its use, in my case, as a species of moral remedy. 

We waited until the dessert was on the table, and the ser- 
vants had left the dining-room. Then, I told my story to the 
Scotch doctor as I have told it here ; and, that done, I opened 
the sketch-book to let him see the writing for himself. 

Had I turned to the wrong page 1 

I started to my feet, and held the book close to the light of 
the lamp that hung over the dining-table. No : I had found 
the right page. There was my half-finished drawing of the 
waterfall but where were the two lines of writing beneath 1 

Gone! 

I strained my eyes ; I looked and looked. And the blank 
white paper looked back at me. 

I placed the open leaf before my mother. " You saw it as 
plainly as I did," I said. " Are my own eyes deceiving me 1 
Look at the bottom of the page." 

My mother sank back in her chair with a cry of terror. 

" Gone ? " I asked. 

" Gone ! " 

I turned to the doctor. He took me completely by surprise. 
No incredulous smile appeared on his face ; no jesting words 
passed his lips. He was listening to us attentively. He was 
waiting gravely to hear more. 

" I declare to you, on my word of honour," I said to him, 
" that I saw the apparition writing with my pencil at the bot- 
tom of that page. I declare that I took the book in my hand, 



84 The Tiuo Destinies. 

and saw these words written in it : ' When the full moon shines 
on Saint Anthony's Well.' Not more than three hours have 
passed since that time and, see for yourself, not a vestige of 
the writing remains." 

" Not a vestige of the writing remains," Mr. MacGlue re- 
peated quietly. 

" If you feel the slightest doubt of what I have told you," I 
went on, " ask my mother she will bear witness that she saw 
the writing too." 

" I don't doubt that you both saw the writing," answered 
Mr. MacGlue with a composure that astonished me. 

" Can you account for it ? ;> I asked. 

" Well," said the impenetrable doctor, " if I set my wits at 
work, I believe I might account for it, to the satisfaction of 
some people. For example, I might give you what they call the 
rational explanation to begin with. I might say that you are, 
to my certain knowledge, in a highly-excited nervous condition ; 
and that, when you saw the apparition (as you call it), you sim- 
ply saw nothing but your own strong impression of an absent 
woman who (as I greatly fear) has got on the weak or amatory 
side of you. I mean no offence, Mr. Germaine " 

" I take no offence, doctor. But excuse me for speaking 
plainly the rational explanation is thrown away on me." 

" I'll readily excuse you," answered Mr. MacGlue ; " the 
rather that I'm entirely of your opinion. I don't believe in 
the rational explanation myself." 

This was surprising, to say the least of it ! " What do you 
believe in ? " I inquired. 

Mr. MacGlue declined to let me hurry him. 

" Wait a little," he said. " There's the er-rational explaua- 



Natural and Supernatural. 85 

tion to try next. Maybe it will fit itself to the present state 
of your mind better than the other. We will say, this time, 
that you have really seen the ghost (or double) of a living per- 
son. Very good. If you can suppose a disembodied spirit to 
appear in earthly clothing of silk or merino as the case may 
be it's no great stretch to suppose next that this same spirit 
is capable of holding a mortal pencil, arid of writing mortal 
words in a mortal sketching-book. And, if the ghost vanishes 
(which your ghost did), it seems supernatural ly appropriate 
that the writing should follow the example and vanish too. 
And the reason of the vanishment may be (if you want a rea- 
son), either that the ghost does not like letting a stranger like 
me into its secrets ; or that vanishing is a settled habit of 
ghosts and of everything associated with them ; or that this 
ghost has changed its mind in the course of three hours (being 
the ghost of a woman, I am sure that is not wonderful), and 
doesn't care to see you ' when the full moon shines on An- 
thony's Well.' There's the ?>-rational explanation for you. 
And, speaking for myself, I'm bound to add that I don't set a 
pin's value on that explanation either." 

Mr. MacGlue's sublime indifference to both sides of the ques- 
tion began to irritate me. 

" In plain words, doctor," I said, " you don't think the cir- 
cumstances that I have mentioned to you worthy of serious in- 
vestigation 1 " 

"I don't think serious investigation capable of dealing with 
the circumstances," answered the doctor. " Put it in that way, 
and you put it. right. Just look round you. Here we three 
persons are alive and hearty at this snug table. If (which God 
forbid !) good Mistress Germaine, or yourself, were to fall down 



86 The Two Destinies. 

dead in another moment, I, doctor as I am, could no more ex- 
plain what first principle of life and movement had been sud- 
denly extinguished in you than the dog there sleeping on the 
hearth-rug. If I am content to sit down ignorant, in the 
face of such an impenetrable mystery as this presented to me, 
day after day, every time I see a living creature come into the 
world or go out of it why may I not sit down content in the 
face of your lady in the summer-house, and say, she's altogether 
beyond my fathoming, and there is an end of her ? " 

At those words, my mother joined in the conversation for the 
first time. 

" Ah, sir," she said, " if you could only persuade my son to 
take your sensible view, how happy I should be ! Would you 
believe it ? he positively means (if he can find the place) to go 
to Saint Anthony's Well ! " 

Even this revelation entirely failed to surprise Mr. MacGlue. 

" Aye 1 aye ? He means to keep his appointment with the 
ghost does he ? Well ! I can be of some service to him, if he 
sticks to his resolution. I can tell him of another man who 
kept a written appointment with a ghost, and what came of it." 

This was a startling announcement. Did he really mean 
what he said 1 

" Are you in jest or in earnest ? " I asked. 

" I never joke, sir ! " said Mr. MacGlue. " No sick person 
really believes in a doctor who jokes. I defy you to show me 
a man at the head of our profession who has ever been dis- 
covered in high spirits (in medical hours) by his nearest and 
dearest friend. You may have wondered, I dare say, at seeing 
me take your strange narrative as coolly as I do. It comes 



Natural and Supernatural. 87 

naturally, sir. Yours is not the first story of a ghost and a 
pencil that I have heard." 

" Do you mean to tell me," I said, " that you know of an- 
other man who has seen what I have seen 1 ? " 

" That is just what I mean to tell you," rejoined the doctor. 
" The man was a far-away Scots' cousin of my late wife, who 
bore the honourable name of Bruce, and followed a seafaring 
life. I'll take another glass of the sherry wine, just to wet my 
whistle, as the vulgar saying is, before I begin. Well, you 
must know Bruce was mate of a barque, at the time I'm speak- 
ing of ; and he was on a voyage from Liverpool to New Bruns- 
wick. At noon, one day, he and the captain having taken their 
observation of the sun, were hard at it below, working out the 
latitude and longitude on their slates. Bruce, in his cabin, 
looked across through the open door of the captain's cabin op- 
posite. ' What do you make it, sir 1 ' says Bruce. The man in 
the captain's cabin looked up. And what did Bruce see ? The 
face of the captain ? Devil a bit of it the face of a total 
stranger ! Up jumps Bruce, with his heart going full gallop 
all in a moment ; and searches for the captain on deck ; and 
finds him much as usual, with his calculations done, and his 
latitude and longitude off his mind for the day. 'There's 
somebody at your desk, sir,' says Bruce. ' He's writing on 
your slate, and he's a total stranger to me.' ' A stranger in my 
cabin ? ' says the captain. ' Why, Mr. Bruce, the ship has been 
six weeks out of port. How did he get on board 1 ' Bruce 
doesn't know how, but he sticks to his story. Away goes the 
captain, and bursts like a whirlwind into his cabin, and finds 
nobody there. Bruce himself is obliged to acknowledge that 
the place is certainly empty. < If I didn't know you were a 



88 The Two Destinies. 

sober man,' says the captain, ' I should charge you with drink- 
ing. As it is, I'll hold you accountable for nothing worse than 
dreaming. Don't do it again, Mr. Bruce.' Bruce sticks to his 
story ; Bruce swears he saw the man writing on the captain's 
slate. The captain takes up the slate, and looks at it. ' Lord 
save us and bless us,' says he, 'here the writing is, sure 
enough ! ' Bruce looks at it too, and sees the writing as plain 
as can be, in these words : ' Steer to the Nor' West.' That, 
and no more. Ah, goodness me, narrating is dry work, Mr. 
Germaine ! With your leave, I'll take another drop of the 
sherry wine." 

" Well ! (It's fine old wine that ; look at the oily drops run- 
ning down the glass.) Well, steering to the north west, you 
will understand, was out of the captain's course. Neverthe- 
less, finding no solution of the mystery on board the ship, and 
the weather at the time being fine, the captain determined, 
while the daylight lasted, to alter his course, and see what came 
of it. Towards three o'clock in the afternoon, an iceberg came 
of it ; with a wrecked ship stove in, and frozen fast to the ice ; 
and the passengers and crew nigh to death with cold and ex- 
haustion. Wonderful enough, you will say, but more remains 
behind. As the mate was helping one of the rescued passen- 
gers up the side of the barque, who should he turn out to be 
but the very man whose ghostly appearance Bruce had seen in 
the captain's cabin, writing on the captain's slate ! And more 
than that if your capacity for being surprised isn't clean worn 
out by this time, the passenger recognised the barque as the 
very vessel which he had seen in a dream at noon that day. 
He had even spoken of it to one of the officers on board the 
wrecked ship when he woke. 'We shall be rescued to-day,' 



Natural and Supernatural. 89 

he had said and he had exactly described the rig of the barque, 
hours and hours before the vessel herself hove in view. Now, 
you know, Mr. Germaine, how my wife's far-away cousin kept 
an appointment with a ghost, and what came of it."* 

Concluding his story in these words, the doctor helped him- 
self to another glass of the " sherry wine." I was not satis- 
fied yet I wanted to know more. 

" The writing on the slate," I said. " Did it remain there 1 
or did it vanish, like the writing in my book 1 " 

Mr. MacGlue's answer disappointed me. He had never 
asked, and had never heard, whether the writing remained or 
not. He had told me all that he knew, and he had but one 
thing more to say, and that was in the nature of a remark, 
with a moral attached to it. " There's a marvellous resem- 
blance, Mr. Germaine, between your story and Brace's story. 
The main difference, as I see it, is this. The passenger's ap- 
pointment proved to be the salvation of the whole ship's com- 
pany. I very much doubt whether the lady's appointment 
will prove to be the salvation of You." 

I silently reconsidered the strange narrative which had just 
been related to me. Another man had seen what I had seen 
had done what I proposed to do ! My mother noticed with 
grave displeasure the strong impression which Mr, MacGlue 
had produced on my mind. 

* The doctor's narrative is not imaginary. It will be found related in full 
detail, and authenticated by names and dates, in Robert Dale Owen's very 
interesting work, called "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World." 
The author gladly takes this opportunity of acknowledging his obligations 
to Mr. Owen's remarkable book. 



90 The Two Destinies. 

" I wish you had kept your story to yourself, doctor," she 
said sharply. 

" May I ask why, madam 1 " 

" You have confirmed my son, sir, in his resolution to go to 
Saint Anthony's Well." 

Mr. MacGlue quietly consulted his pocket almanac before he 
replied. 

" It's the full moon on the ninth of the month," he said. 
" That gives Mr. Germaine some days of rest, ma'am, before 
he takes the journey. If he travels in his own comfortable 
carriage whatever I may think, morally speaking, of his en- 
terprise I can't say, medically speaking, that I believe it will 
do him much harm." 

" You know where Saint Anthony's Well is 1 " I interposed. 

" I must be mighty ignorant of Edinburgh not to know that," 
replied the doctor. 

" Is the Well in Edinburgh, then ? " 

11 It's just outside Edinburgh looks down on it, as you may 
say. You follow the old street called the Canongate, to the 
end. You turn to your right, past the famous Palace of Holy- 
rood ; you cross the Park and Drive ; and take your way up- 
wards to the ruins of Anthony's Chapel, on the shoulder of 
the hill and there you are ! There's a high rock behind the 
Chapel ; and at the foot of it, you will find the spring they 
call Anthony's Well. It's thought a pretty view by moonlight 
and they tell me it's no longer beset at night by bad charac- 
ters, as it used to be in the old time." 

My mother, in graver and graver displeasure, rose to retire to 
the drawing-room. 

" I confess you have disappointed me," she said to Mr. Mac- 



Natural and Supernatural. 91 

Glue. " I should have thought you would have been the last 
man to encourage my son in an act of imprudence." 

" Craving your pardon, madam, your son requires no en- 
couragement. I can see for myself that his mind is made up. 
Where is the use of a person like me trying to stop him ? 
Dear madam, if he won't profit by your advice, what hope can 
I have that he will take mine 1 " 

\ 

Mr. MacGlue pointed this artful compliment by a bow of 
the deepest respect, and threw open the door for my mother to 
pass out. 

When we were left together over our wine, I asked the 
doctor how soon I might start on my journey to Edinburgh. 

"Take two days to do the journey; and you may start, if 
you're bent on it, at the beginning of the week. But mind 
this," added the prudent doctor ; " though I own I'm anxious 
to hear what comes of your expedition understand at the same 
time, so far as the lady is concerned, that I wash my hands of 
the consequences." 





CHAPTER X. 

SAINT ANTHONY'S WELL. 

STOOD on the rocky eminence, in front of the ruins 
of Saint Anthony's Chapel, and looked on the mag- 
nificent view of Edinburgh and the old Palace of 
Holyrood, bathed in the light of the full moon. 

The Well, as the doctor's instructions had in- 
formed me, was behind the Chapel. I waited for 
some minutes in front of the ruin, partly to recover my breath, 
after ascending the hill ; partly, I own, to master the nervous 
agitation which the sense of my position at that moment had 
aroused in me. The woman, or the apparition of the woman 
it might be either was perhaps within a few yards of the 
place that I occupied. Not a living creature appeared in front 
of the Chapel. Not a sound caught my ear, from any part of 
the solitary hill. I tried to fix my whole attention on the 
beauties of the moonlight view. It was not to be done. My 
mind was far away from the objects on which my eyes rested. 
My mind was with the woman whom I had seen in the sum - 
mer-house, writing in my book. 

I turned to skirt the side of the Chapel. A few steps more 
over the broken ground, brought me within view of the Well. 



Saint Anthony s Well. 93 

and of the high boulder, or rock, from the foot of which the 
waters gushed brightly in the light of the moon. 

She was there. 

I recognised her figure as she stood leaning against the rock, 
with her hands crossed in front of her, lost in thought. I re- 
cognised her face, as she looked up quickly, startled by the 
sound of my footsteps in the deep stillness of the night. 

Was it the woman, or the apparition of the woman ? I 
waited looking at her in silence. 

She spoke. The sound of her voice was not the mysterious 
sound that I had heard in the summer-house it was the sound 
I had heard on the bridge, when we first met in the dim even- 
ing light. 

" Who are you 1 What do you want ?" 

As those words passed her lips, she recognised me. " You 
here ! " she went on, advancing a step in uncontrollable sur- 
prise. " What does this mean 1 " 

" I am here," I answered, " to meet you, by your own ap- 
pointment." 

She stepped back again, leaning against the rock. The 
moonlight shone full upon her face. There was terror as well 
as astonishment in her eyes, while they now looked at me. 

" I don't understand you," she said ; " I have not seen you 
since you spoke to me on the bridge." 

" Pardon me," I replied. " I have seen you or the ap- 
pearance of you since that time. I heard you speak. I saw 
you write." 

She looked at me with the strangest expression of mingled 
resentment and curiosity. " What did I say V she asked, 
" What did I write 1 " 



94 The Two Destinies. 

11 You said, ' Remember me. Come to me.' You wrote, 
'When the full moon shines on Saint Anthony's Well.' ' 

" Where 1 " she cried. " Where did 1 do that ? " 

" In a summer-house which stands by a waterfall," I an- 
swered. " Do you know the place ? " 

Her head sank back against the rock. A low cry of terror 
burst from her. Her arm, resting on the rock, dropped at her 
side. I hurriedly approached her, in the fear that she might 
fall on the stony ground. 

She rallied her failing strength. " Don't touch me ! " she 
exclaimed. " Stand back, sir ! You frighten me." 

I tried to soothe her. "Why do I frighten you? You 
know who I am. Can you doubt my interest in you, after I 
have been the means of saving your life 1 " 

Her reserve vanished in an instant. She advanced without 
hesitation, and took me by the hand. 

" I ought to thank you," she said ; " and I do. 1 am not 
so ungrateful as I seem. I am not a wicked woman, sir I 
was mad with misery when I tried to drown myself. Don't 
distrust me ! Don't despise me ! " She stopped I saw the 
tears on her cheeks. With a sudden contempt for herself, 
she dashed them away. Her whole tone and manner altered 
once more. Her reserve returned ; she looked at me with a 
strange flash of suspicion and defiance in her eyes. " Mind 
this ! " she said loudly and abruptly, " you were dreaming, 
when you thought you saw me writing ! You didn't see me ; 
you never heard me speak. How could I say those familiar 
words to a stranger like you 1 It's all your fancy and you 
try to frighten me by talking of it as if it was a real thing ! " 
She changed again ; her eyes softened to the sad and tender 



Saint Anthony s Well. 95 

look which made them so irresistibly beautiful. She drew her 
cloak round her with a shudder as if she felt the chill of the 
night air. " What is the matter with me ? " I heard her say 
to herself. " Why do I trust this man in my dreams 1 And 
why am I ashamed of it, when I wake ? " 

That strange outburst encouraged me. I risked letting her 
know that I had overheard her last words. 

" If you trust me in your dreams, you only do me justice," 
I said. " Do me justice now ; give me your confidence. You 
are alone you are in trouble you want a friend's help. I 
am waiting to help you." 

She hesitated. I tried to take her hand. The strange 
creature drew it away with a cry of alarm : her one great fear 
seemed to be the fear of letting me touch her. 

" Give me time to think of it," she said. " You don't know 
what I have got to think of. Give me till to-morrow ; and 
let me write. Are you staying in Edinburgh 1 " 

I thought it wise to be satisfied in appearance at least 
with this concession. Taking out my cafcd, I wrote on it in 
pencil the address of the hotel at which I was staying. She 
read the card by the moonlight, when I put it into her hand. 

"George!" she repeated to herself \ stealing another look 
at me as the name passed her lips. " ' George Germaine. I 
never heard of * Germaine.' But ' George ' reminds me of 
old times." She smiled sadly at some passing fancy or re- 
membrance in which I was not permitted to share. " There 
is nothing very wonderful in your being called ' George/ " 
she went on, after awhile. " The name is common enough 

one meets with it everywhere as a man's name. And yet " 

Her eyes finished the sentence ; her eyes said to me, " I am 



96 The Two Destinies. 

not so much afraid of you, now I know that you are called 
' George/ " 

So she unconsciously led me to the brink of discovery ! 

If I had only asked her what associations she connected with 
my Christian name if I had only persuaded her to speak in 
the briefest and most guarded terms of her past life the 
barrier between us, which the change in our names and the 
lapse of ten years had raised, must have been broken down ; 
the recognition must have followed. But I never even thought 
of it ; and for this simple reason I was in love with her. 
The purely selfish idea of winning my way to her favourable 
regard, by taking instant advantage of the new interest that I 
had awakened in her, was the one idea which occurred to 
my mind. 

" Don't wait to write to me," I said. " Don't put it off till 
to-morrow. Who knows what may happen before to-morrow ? 
Surely I deserve some little return for the sympathy that I feel 
with you ! I don't ask for much. Make me happy, by making 
me of some servifl^|p you before we part to-night." 

I took her hand this time, before she was aware of me. The 
whole woman seemed to yield at my touch. Her hand lay un- 
resistingly in mine ; her charming figure came by soft grada- 
tions nearer and nearer to me ; her head almost touched my 
shoulder. She murmured in faint accents, broken by sighs, 
" Don't take advantage of me. I am so friendless : I am so 
completely in your power." Before I could answer, before I 
could move, her hand closed on mine ; her head sank on my 
shoulder : she burst into tears. 

Any man, not an inbred and inborn villain, would have re- 
spected her at that moment. I put her hand on my arm, and 



Saint Anthony s Well. 97 

led her away gently past the ruined chapel, and down the slope 
of the hill. 

" This lonely place is frightening you," I said. " Let us 
walk a little, and you will soon be yourself again." 

She smiled through her tears like a child. 

" Yes," she said eagerly. " But not that way/' I had ac- 
cidentally taken the direction which led away from the city : 
she begged me to turn towards the houses and the streets. We 
walked back towards Edinburgh. She eyed me, as we went 
on in the moonlight, with innocent wondering looks. " What 
an unaccountable influence you have over me ! " she exclaimed. 
" Did you ever see me did you ever hear my name before 
we met that evening at the river ? " 

" Never ! " 

" And I never heard your name, and never saw you before. 
Strange ! very strange ! Ah, I remember somebody only an 
old woman, sir who might once have egriained it ! Where 
shall I find the like of her now <{ " 

She sighed bitterly. The lost frieno^Hlelative had evi- 
dently been dear to her. "A relation of yours ? " I inquired, 
more to keep her talking than because I felt any interest in 
any member of her family but herself. 

We were again on the brink of discovery. And again it 
was decreed that we were to advance no farther ! 

" Don't ask me about my relations!" she broke out. "I 
daren't think of the dead and gone, in the trouble that is try- 
ing me now. If I speak of the old times at home, T shall only 
burst out crying again, and distress you. Talk of something 
else, sir- talk of something else." 

The mystery of the apparition in the summer-house was not 



98 The Two Destinies. 

cleared up yet. I took my opportunity of approaching the 
subject. 

" You spoke a little while since of dreaming of me," I be- 
gan. " Tell me your dream." 

" I hardly know whether it was a dream or whether it was 
something else," she answered. " I call it a dream, for want 
of a better word." 

" Did it happen at night 1 " 

" No. In the daytime in the afternoon. 3 ' 

" Late in the afternoon 1 " 

" Yes close on the evening." 

My memory reverted to the doctor's story of the shipwrecked 
passenger, whose ghostly " double " had appeared in the vessel 
that was to rescue him, and who had himself seen that vessel 
in a dream. 

"Do you remember the day of the month and the hour?" 
I asked. 

She mentioned the day, and she mentioned the hour. It 
was the day wh|Hpy mother and I had visited the waterfall ! 
It vvas the hour when I had seen the apparition in the sum- 
mer-house, writing in my book ! 

I stopped in irrepressible astonishment. We had walked, 
by this time, nearly as far on the way back to the city as the 
old Palace of Holyrood. My companion, after a glance at me, 
turned and looked at the rugged old building, mellowed into 
quiet beauty by the lovely moonlight. 

" This is my favourite walk," she said simply, " since I have 
been in Edinburgh. I don't mind the loneliness I like the 
perfect tranquillity here at night," Bhe glanced at me again, 



Saint Anthony s Well. 99 

" What is the matter 1 " she asked. " You say nothing ; you 
only look at me." 

" I want to hear more of your dream," I said. " How did 
you come to be sleeping in the daytime ? " 

" It is not easy to say what I was doing," she replied as we 
walked on again. " I was miserably anxious and ill I felt my 
helpless condition keenly on that day. It was dinner-time, 
I remember ; and I had no appetite. I went upstairs (at the 
inn where I am staying), and laid down, quite worn out, on my 
bed. I don't know whether I fainted, or whether I slept I 
lost all consciousness of what was going on about me, and I 
got some other consciousness in its place. If this was dream- 
ing, I can only say it was the most vivid dream I ever had in 
my life." 

" Did it begin by your seeing me 1 " I inquired. 

" It began by my seeing your drawing-book lying open on 
a table in a summer-house." 

" Can you describe the summer-house, as' you saw it 1 " 

She described not only the summer-house, but the view of 
the waterfall from the door. She knew raWSze, she knew the 
binding, of my sketch-book locked up in my desk, at that 
moment, at home in Perthshire ! 

" And you wrote in the book," I went on. " Do you re- 
member what you wrote ? " 

She looked away from me confusedly, as if she was ashamed 
to recall this part of her dream. 

" You have mentioned it already," she said. " There is no 
need for me to go over the words again. Tell me one thing 
when you were at the summer-house, did you wait a little on 
the path to the door, before you went in ? " 



100 The Two Destinies. 

I had waited surprised by my first view of the woman 
writing in my book ! Having answered her to this effect, I 
asked her what she had done or dreamed of doing, at the later 
moment when I entered the summer-house. 

" I did the strangest things," she said, in low wondering 
tones. "If you had been my brother, I could hardly have 
treated you more familiarly ! I beckoned to you to come to me 
I even laid my hand on your bosom. I spoke to you as 
I might have spoken to my oldest and dearest friend. I said, 
' Remember me. Come to me ! ' Oh, I was so ashamed of 
myself when I came to my senses again, and recollected it ! 
Was there ever such familiarity even in a dream between a 
woman, and a man whom she had only once seen, and then as 
a perfect stranger ] " 

" Did you know how long it was," I asked, " from the time 
when you laid down on the bed, to the time when you found 
yourself awake ag|yi ? " 

" I think I can tell you," she replied. " It was the dinner- 
time of the house (as I said just now), when I went upstairs. 
Not long after ^m*come to myself, I heard a church clock 
strike the hour. Reckoning from one time to the other, it 
must have been quite three hours from the time when I first 
laid down, to the time when I got up again." 

Was the clue to the mysterious disappearance of the writing 
to be found here ? 

Looking back by the light of later discoveries, I am inclined 
to think that it was. In three hours, the lines traced by the 
apparition of her had vanished. In three hours, she had come 
to herself, and had felt ashamed of the familiar manner in 
which she had communicated with me in her sleeping state. 



Saint Anthony s Well. 



101 



While she had trusted me, in the trance trusted me, because 
her spirit was then free to recognise my spirit the writing 
had remained on the page. When her waking will counter- 
acted the influence of her sleeping will, the writing disap- 
peared. Is this the explanation ? If it is not, where is the 
explanation to be found \ 

We walked on until we reached that part of the Canongate 
street in which she lodged. We stopped at the door. 




CHAPTER XL 




THE LETTER OF INTRODUCTION. 

LOOKED at the house. It was an inn of no great 
size, but of respectable appearance. If I was to be 
of any use to her that night, the time had come to 
speak of other subjects than the subject of dreams. 

" After all that you have told me," I said, " I will 
not ask you to admit me any farther into your confi- 
dence until we meet again. Only let me hear how I can re- 
lieve your most pressing anxieties. What are your plans 1 
Can I do anything ,to help them, before you go to rest to- 

She thankecMBHBKmly, and hesitated ; looking up the 
street and down the street, in evident embarrassment what to 
say next. 

" Do you propose staying in Edinburgh 1 " I asked. 

" Oh, no ! I don't wish to remain in Scotland. I want to 
go much farther away I think I should do better in London ; 
at some respectable milliner's, if I could be properly recom- 
mended. I am quick at my needle and I understand cutting 
out. Or I could keep accounts, if if anybody would trust 
me." 

She stopped, and looked at me doubtingly as if she felt 



The Letter of Introduction. 103 

far from sure, poor soul, of winning my confidence to begin 
with ! I acted on that hint, with the headlong impetuosity of 
a man who was in love. 

" I can give you exactly the recommendation you want," I 
said. "Whenever you like. Now, if you would prefer it." 

Her charming features brightened with pleasure. " Oh, you 
are indeed a friend to me ! " she said impulsively. Her 
face clouded again she saw my proposal in a new light' 
" Have I any right," she asked sadly, " to accept what you 
offer me ? " 

" Let me give you the letter," I answered ; " and you can 
decide for yourself whether you will use it or not." 

I put her arm again in mine, and entered the inn. 

She shrank back in alarm. What would the landlady think, 
if she saw her lodger enter the house at night, in company 
with a stranger, and that stranger a gentleman 1 The land- 
lady appeared as she made the objection. Reckless what I 
said or what I did, I introduced mysJj Hbher relative ; and 
asked to be shown into a quiet room in ajiich I could write a 
letter. After one sharp glance at mefthe landlady appeared 
to be satisfied that she was dealing with a gentleman. She 
led the way into a sort of parlour behind the " bar ; " placed 
writing materials on the table ; looked at my companion as 
only one woman can look at another under certain circum- 
stances ; and left us by ourselves. 

It was the first time I had ever been in a room with her, 
alone. The embarrassing sense of her position had heightened 
her colour, and brightened her eyes. She stood, leaning one 
hand on the table, confused and irresolute ; her firm and supple 
ire falling into an attitude of unsought grace which it was 



104 7 he Two Destinies. 

literally a luxury to look at. I said nothing ; my eyes con- 
fessed my admiration ; the writing materials lay untouched 
before me on the table. How long the silence might have 
lasted I cannot say. She abruptly broke it. Her instinct 
warned her that silence might have its dangers, in our position. 
She turned to me, with an effort ; she said uneasily, " I don't 
think you ought to write your letter to-night, sir." 

" Why not ? " 

" You know nothing of me. Surely you ought not to recom- 
mend a person who is a stranger to you 1 And I am worse 
than a stranger. I am a miserable wretch who has tried to 
commit a great sin I have tried to destroy myself. Perhaps 
the misery I was in might be some excuse for me, if you knew 
it. You ought to know it. But it's so late to-night ; and I 
am so sadly tired and there are some things, sir, which it is 
not easy for a woman to speak of in the presence of a man." 

Her head sank on her bosom ; her delicate lips trembled a 
little ; she said no more. The way to reassure and console her 
lay plainly enougjMsfore me, if I chose to take it. Without 
stopping to think, ^TOOK it. 

Reminding her that she had herself proposed writing to me 
when we met that evening, I suggested that she should wait 
to tell the sad story of her troubles, until it was convenient to 
send me the narrative in the form of a letter. " In the mean- 
time," I added, " I have the most perfect confidence in you ; 
and I beg as a favour that you will let me put it to the proof. 
I can introduce you to a dressmaker in London, who is at the 
head of a large establishment and I will do it before I leave 
you to-night." 

I dipped my pen in the ink as I said the words. Let me 



The Letter of Introduction. 105 

confess frankly the lengths to which my infatuation led me. 
The dressmaker to whom I had alluded, had been my mother's 
maid, in former years, and had been established in business 
with money lent by my late stepfather, Mr. Germaine. I used 
both their names, without scruple ; and I wrote my recommen- 
dation in terms which the best of living women and the ablest 
of existing dressmakers could never have hoped to merit. Will 
anybody find excuses for me ? Those rare persons who have 
been in love, and who have not completely forgotten it yet, 
may perhaps find excuses for me. It matters little ; 1 don't 
deserve them. 

I handed her the open letter to read. 

She blushed delightfully she cast one tenderly-grateful look 
at me, which I remembered but too well for many and many 
an after day. The next moment, to my astonishment, this 
changeable creature changed again. Some forgotten considera- 
tion seemed to have occurred to her. She turned pale ; the 
soft lines of pleasure in her face hardened-. little by little ; she 
regarded me with the saddest look of confusion and distress. 
Putting the letter down before me on the table, she said 
timidly, 

" Would you mind adding a postscript, sir ?" 

1 suppressed all appearance of surprise as well as I could, 
and took up the pen again. 

" Would you please say," she went on, " that I am only to be 

taken on trial, at first. I am not to be engaged for more '' 

Her voice sank lower and lower, so that I could barely hear 
the next words " for more than three months, certain." 

It was not in human nature perhaps I ought to say, it was 
not in the nature of a man who was in my situation to re- 



106 The Two Destinies. 

frain from showing some curiosity, on being asked to sup- 
plement a letter of recommendation by such a postscript as 
this! 

" Have you some other employment in prospect ? " I 



" None," she answered, with her head down, and her eyes 
avoiding mine. 

An unworthy doubt of her the mean offspring of jealousy 
found its way into my mind. 

" Have you some absent friend," I went on, " who is likely 
to prove a better friend than I am, if you only give him 
time ? " 

She lifted her noble head. Her grand guileless grey eyes 
rested on me with a look of patient reproach. 

" I have not got a friend in the world," she said. u For 
God's sake, ask me no more questions to-night." 

I rose, and gave her the letter once more with the post- 
script added, in her own words. 

We stood together by the table ; we looked at each other, in 
a momentary silence. 

" How can I thank you ? " she murmured softly. " Oh, sir, 
I will indeed be worthy of the confidence that you have shown 
in me ! " Her eyes moistened ; her variable colour came and 
went ; her dress heaved softly over the lovely outline of her 
bosom. I don't believe the man lives who could have resisted 
her at that moment. I lost all power of restraint ; I caught 
her in my arms ; I whispered, " I love you ! " I kissed her 
passionately. For a moment, she lay helpless and trembling 
on my breast ; for a moment, her fragrant lips softly returned 
the kiss. In an instant more it was over. She tore herself 



The Letter of Introduction. 107 



away, with a shudder that shook her from head to foot and 
threw the letter that I had given to her indignantly at my 
feet. 

" How dare you take advantage of me 1 How dare you 
touch me 1 " she said. " Take your letter back, sir I refuse 
to receive it ; I will never speak to you again. You don't 
know what you have done. You don't know how deeply you 
have wounded me. Oh ! " she cried, throwing herself in des- 
pair on a sofa that stood near her, " shall I ever recover my 
self-respect ? shall I ever forgive myself for what I have done 
to-night ?" 

I implored her pardon ; I assured her of my repentance and 
regret in words which did really come from my heart. The 
violence of her agitation more than distressed me I was really 
alarmed by it. 

She composed herself after a while. She rose to her* feet 
with modest dignity, and silently held out her hand in token 
that my repentance was accepted. 

" You will give me time for atonement % " I pleaded. " You 
will not lose all confidence in me 1 Let me see you again, if it 
is only to show that I am not quite unworthy of your pardon 
at your own time \ in the presence of another person if you 
like." 

" I will write to you," she said. 

" To-morrow 1 " 

"To-morrow." 

I took up the letter of recommendation from the floor. 

" Make your goodness to me complete," I said. " Don't 
mortify me by refusing to take my letter." 



108 The Two Destinies. 

" I will take your letter," she answered quietly. " Thank 
you for writing it. Leave me now, please. Good-night." 

I left her, pale and sad, with my letter in her hand. I left 
her, with my mind in a tumult of contending emotions, which 
gradually resolved themselves into two master feelings as I 
walked on : Love that adored her more fervently than ever ; 
and Hope that set the prospect before me of seeing her again 
on the next day. 





CHAPTER XII. 

THE DISASTERS OF MRS. VAN BRANDT. 

MAN who passes his evening as I had passed mine, 
may go to bed afterwards if he has nothing better 
to do ; but he must not rank among the number of 
his reasonable anticipations the expectation of get- 
ting a night's rest. The morning was well advanced, 
and the hotel was astir, before I at last closed my 
eyes in slumber. When I awoke, my watch informed me that 
it was close on noon. 

I rang the bell. My servant appeared with a letter in his 
hand. It had been left for me, three hours since, by a lady 
who had driven to the hotel door in a carriage, and had then 
driven away again. The man had found me sleeping, when 
he entered my bedchamber ; and, having received no orders to 
wake me over-night, had left the letter on the sitting-room 
table, until he heard my bell. 

Easily guessing who my correspondent was, I opened the 
letter. An inclosure fell out of it to which for the moment 
I paid no attention. The letter was the one object of interest 
to me. I turned eagerly to the first lines. They announced 
that the writer had escaped me for the second time ; early that 
morning, she had left Edinburgh ! The paper inclosed proved 



110 The Two Destinies. 

to be my letter of introduction to the dressmaker, returned to 
me. 

I was more than angry with her I felt her second flight 
from me as a downright outrage. In five minutes I had 
hurried on my clothes, and was on my way to the inn in the 
Canongate as fast as a horse could draw me. 

The servants could give me no information. Her escape had 
been effected without their knowledge. 

The landlady, to whom I next addressed myself, deliberately 
declined to assist me in any way whatever. " I have given the 
lady my promise," said this obstinate person, " to answer not 
one word to any question that you may ask me about her. In 
my belief, she is acting as becomes an honest woman in remov' 
ing herself from any further communication with you. I saw 
you through the key-hole last night, sir. I wish you good 
morning." 

Returning to my hotel, I left no attempt to discover her 
untried. I traced the coachman who had driven her. He had 
set her down at a^/shop, and had then been dismissed. I 
questioned the shopkeeper. He remembered that he had sold 
some articles of linen to a lady with her veil down and a 
travelling bag in her hand, and he remembered no more. I 
circulated a description of her in the different coach-offices. 
Three " elegant young ladies, with their veils down, and with 
travelling bags in their hands " answered to the description ; 
and which of the three was the fugitive of whom I was in 
search, it was impossible to discover. In the days of railways 
and electric telegraphs, I might have succeeded in tracing her. 
In the days of which J am now writing, she set investigation 
at defiance, 



The Disasters of Mrs. Van Brandt. ill 

I read and re-read her letter ; on the chance that some slip 
of the pen might furnish the clue which I had failed to find in 
any other way. Here is the narrative that she addressed to 
me, copied from the original, word for word : 

" Dear Sir, Forgive me for leaving you again, as I left you 
in Perthshire. After what took place last night, I have no 
other choice (knowing my own weakness, and the influence 
that you seem to have over me) than to thank you gratefully 
for your kindness, and to bid you farewell. My sad position 
must be my excuse for separating myself from you in this rude 
manner, and for venturing to send you back your letter of in- 
troduction. If I use the letter, I only offer you a means of 
communicating with me. For your sake, as well as for mine, 
this must not be. I must never give you a second opportunity 
of saying that you love me ; I must go away, leaving no trace 
behind by which you can possibly discover me. 

" But 1 cannot forget that I owe my poor life to your com- 
passion and your courage. You, who saved me, have a right 
to know what the provocation was that drove me to drowning 
myself, and what my situation is, now that I am (thanks to 
you) still a living woman. You shall hear my sad story, sir ; 
and I will try to tell it as briefly as possible. 

" I was married, not very long since, to a Dutch gentleman 
whose name is Van Brandt. Please excuse my entering into 
family particulars. I have endeavoured to write and tell you 
about my dear lost father and my old home. But the tears 
come into my eyes when I think of my happy past life ; I 
really cannot see the lines as I try to write them. 

" Let me then only say that Mr. Van Brandt was well recom- 



112 The Two Destinies. 

mended to my good father, before I married. I have only now 
discovered that he obtained these recommendations from his 
friends, under a false pretence which it is needless to trouble 
you by mentioning in detail. Ignorant of what he had done, 
I lived with him happily. I cannot truly declare that he was 
the object of my first love ; but he was the one person in the 
world whom I had to look up to after my father's death. I 
esteemed him and admired him and, if I may say so without 
vanity, I did indeed make him a good wife. 

" So the time went on, sir, prosperously enough, until the 
evening came when you and I met on the bridge. 

" I was out alone in our garden trimming the shrubs, when 
the maid-servant came and told me there was a foreign lady, in 
a carriage at the door, who desired to say a word to Mrs. Van 
Brandt. I sent the maid on before, to show her into the 
sitting-room ; and I followed to receive my visitor as soon as 
I had made myself tidy. She was a dreadful woman, with a 
flushed fiery face and impudent bright eyes. ' Are you Mrs. 
Van Brandt ? ' she said. I answered, ' Yes.' ' Are you really 
married to him 1 ' she asked me. That question (naturally 
enough, I think) upset my temper. I said, ' How dare you 
doubt it ? ' She laughed in my face. ' Send for Van Brandt ; ' 
she said. I went out into the passage, and called him down 
from the room upstairs in which he was writing. ' Ernest ! ' I 
said, ' here is a person who has insulted me ; come down di- 
rectly ! ' He left his room the moment he heard me. The 
woman followed me out into the passage to meet him. She 
made him a low courtesy. He turned deadly pale the moment 
he set eyes on her. That frightened me. I said to him, ' For 
God's sake, what does this mean 1 ' He took me by the arm, 



The Disasters of Mrs. Van Brandt. 113 

and he answered, ' You shall know soon. Go back to your 
gardening and don't return to the house till I send for you.' 
His looks were so shocking, he was so unlike himself, that I 
declare he daunted me. I let him take me as far as the garden 
door. He squeezed my hand. ' For my sake, darling/ he whis- 
pered, ' do what I ask of you.' I went into the garden and 
sat me down on the nearest bench, and waited miserably for 
what was to come. 

" How long a time passed, I don't know. My anxiety got 
to such a pitch at last that I could bear it no longer. I ven- 
tured back to the house. 

"I listened in the passage, and heard nothing. I went close 
to the parlour door, and still there was silence. I took courage, 
and opened the door. 

" The room was empty. There was a letter on the table. 
It was in my husband's handwriting ; and it was addressed to 
me. I opened it and read it. The letter told me that I was 
deserted, disgraced, ruined. The woman with the fiery face 
and the impudent eyes was Van Brandt's lawful wife. She 
had given him his choice of going away with her at once, or 
of being prosecuted for bigamy. He had gone away with her 
gone, and left me. 

" Remember, sir, that I had lost both father and mother. I 
had no friends. I was alone in the world, without a creature 
near to comfort or advise me. And please to bear in mind 
that I have a temper which feels even the smallest slights and 
injuries very keenly. Do you wonder at what I had it in my 
thoughts to do, that evening on the bridge ? 

" Mind this ! I believe I should never have attempted to 
destroy myself, if I could only have burst out crying. No 



114 The Two Destinies. 

tears came to me. A dull stunned feeling took hold, like a vice, 
on my head and on my heart. I walked straight to the river. 
I said to myself quite calmly, as I went along : ' There is the 
end of it, and the sooner the better.' 

" What happened after that, you know as well as I do. I 
may get on to the next morning the morning when I so un- 
gratefully left you at the inn by the river side. 

" I had but one reason, sir, for going away by the first con- 
veyance that I could find to take me and this was the fear 
that Van Brandt might discover me if I remained in Perthshire. 
The letter that he had left on the table was full of expressions 
of love and remorse to say nothing of excuses for his infa- 
mous behaviour to me. He declared that he had been entrapped 
into a private marriage with a profligate woman when he was 
little more than a lad. They had long since separated by com- 
mon consent. When he first courted me, he had every reason 
to believe that she was dead. How he had been deceived in 
this particular, and how she had discovered that he had mar- 
ried me, he had yet to find out. Knowing her furious temper, 
he had gone away with her, as the one means of preventing an 
application to the justices and a scandal in the neighbourhood. 
In a day or two, he would purchase his release from her by an 
addition to the allowance which she had already received from 
him : he would return to me, and take me abroad, out of the 
way of further annoyance. I was his wife in the sight of 
Heaven ; I was the only woman he had ever loved, and so on, 
and so on. 

" Do you now see, sir, the risk that I ran of his discovering 
me if I remained in your neighbourhood 1 The bare thought 
of it made my flesh creep. I was determined never again to 



The Disasters of Mrs. Van Brandt. 115 

see the man who had so cruelly deceived me. I am in the same 
mind still with this difference, that I might consent to see 
him, if I could be positively assured first of the death of his 
wife. That is not likely to happen. Let me get on with my 
letter, and tell you what I did on my arrival in Edinburgh. 

"The coachman recommended me to the house in the Can- 
ongate where you found me lodging. I wrote the same day to 
relatives of my father living in Glasgow, to tell them where I 
was, and in what a forlorn position I found myself. 

" I was answered by return of post. The head of the family 
and his wife requested me to refrain from visiting them in Glas- 
gow. They had business then in hand which would take them 
to Edinburgh ; and I might expect to see them both with the 
least possible delay. 

" They arrived as they had promised ; and they expressed 
themselves civilly enough. Moreover, they did certainly lend 
me a small sum of money, when they found how poorly my 
purse was furnished. But I don't think either husband or wife 
felt much for me* They recommended me, at parting, to ap- 
ply to my father's other relatives living in England. I may 
be doing them an injustice ; but I fancy they were eager to 
get me (as the common phrase is) off their hands. 

" The day when the departure of my relatives left me friend- 
less, was also the day, sir, when I had that dream or vision of 
you which I have already related. I lingered on at the house 
in the Canongate ; partly because the landlady was kind to me, 
partly because I was so depressed by my position that I really 
did not know what to do next. 

" In this wretched condition, you discovered me on that 
favourite walk of mine from Holyrood to St. Anthony's Well. 



116 The Two Destinies. 

Believe me, your kind interest in my fortunes has not been 
thrown away on an ungrateful woman. I could ask Provi- 
dence for no greater blessing than to find a brother and a 
friend in you. You have yourself destroyed that hope by 
what you said and did, when we were together in the parlour. 
I don't blame you ; I am afraid my manner (without my know- 
ing it) might have seemed to give you some encouragement. 
I am only sorry very, very sorry, to have no honourable 
choice left but never to see you again. 

" After much thinking, I have made up my mind to speak to 
those other relatives of my father to whom I have not yet ap- 
plied. The chance that they may help me to earn an honest 
living is the one chance that I have left. God bless you, Mr. 
Germaine ! I wish you prosperity and happiness from the 
bottom of my heart, and remain, your grateful servant, 

" M. VAN BRANDT. 

"P.S. 1 sign my own name (or the name which I once 
thought was mine) as a proof that I have honestly written the 
truth about myself from first to last. For the future, I must 
for safety's sake live under some other name. I should like to 
go back to my name when I was a happy girl at home. But 
Van Brandt knows it ; arid besides, I have (no matter how in- 
nocently) disgraced it. Good-bye again, sir ; and thank you 
again." 

So the letter concluded. 

I read it in the temper of a thoroughly disappointed and 
thoroughly unreasonable man. Whatever poor Mrs. Van 
Brandt had done, she had done wrong. It was wrong of her, 



The Disasters of Mrs. Van Brandt. 117 

in the first place, to have married at all. It was wrong of her 
to contemplate receiving Mr. Van Brandt again, even if his 
lawful wife had died in the interval. It was wrong of her to 
return my letter of introduction, after I had given myself the 
trouble of altering it to suit her capricious fancy. It was 
wrong of her to take an absurdly prudish view of a stolen kiss 
and a tender declaration, and to fly from me as if I was as 
great a scoundrel as Mr. Van Brandt himself. And last, and 
more than all, it was wrong of her to sign her Christian name 
in initial only. Here I was, passionately in love with a woman, 
and not knowing by what fond name to identify her in my 
thoughts ! " M. Van Brandt ! " I might call her, Maria, Mar- 
garet, Martha, Mabel, Magdalen, Mary no ! not Mary. The 
old boyish love was dead and gone ; but I owed some respect 
to the memory of it. If the " Mary " of my early days was 
still living, and if I had met her, would she have treated me 
as this woman had treated me 1 Never ! It was an in- 
jury to " Mary," to think even of that heartless creature by 
her name. Why think of her at all ? Why degrade myself 
by trying to puzzle out a means of tracing her in her letter 1 
It was sheer folly to attempt to trace a woman who had gone 
I knew not whither, and who had herself informed me that 
she meant to pass under an assumed name. Had I lost all 
pride, all self-respect ? In the flower of my age with a hand- 
some fortune ; with the world before me, full of interesting 
female faces, and charming female figures what course did it 
become me to take 1 To go back to my country house, and 
mope over the loss of a woman who had deliberately deserted 
me 1 or to send for a courier and a travelling- carriage, and for- 
get her gaily, among foreign people and foreign scenes ? In 



118 The Two Destinies. 

the state of my temper at that moment, the idea of a pleasure 
tour in Europe fired my imagination. I first astonished the 
people at the hotel by ordering all further inquiries after the 
missing Mrs. Van Brandt to be stopped and then I opened 
my writing-desk and wrote to tell my mother frankly and fully 
of my new plans. 

The answer arrived by return of post. 

To my surprise and delight, my good mother was not satis- 
fied with only formally approving of my new resolution. With 
an energy which I had not ventured to expect from her, she 
had made all her arrangements for leaving home, and had 
started for Edinburgh to join me as my travelling companion. 
" You shall not go away alone, George " (she wrote), " while I 
have strength and spirits to keep you company." 

In three days from the time when I read these words, our 
preparations were completed, and we were on our way to the 
Continent. 





CHAPTER XIII. 

NOT CURED YET. 

visited France, Germany, and Italy; and we 
were absent from England nearly two years. 

Had time and change justified my confi- 
dence in them 1 Was the image of Mrs. Van 
Brandt an image long since dismissed from my 
mind 1 

No ! Do what I might, I was still (in the prophetic lan- 
guage of Dame Dermody) taking the way to reunion with my 
kindred spirit, in the time to come. For the first two or three 
months of our travels, I was haunted by dreams of the woman 
who had so resolutely left me. Seeing her in my sleep, always 
graceful, always charming, always modestly tender towards 
me, I waited in the ardent hope of again beholding the appari- 
tion of her in my waking hours of again being summoned to 
meet her at a given place and time. My anticipations were 
not fulfilled ; no apparition showed itself. The dreams them- 
selves grew less frequent and less vivid, and then ceased alto- 
gether. Was this a sign that the days of her adversity were at 
an end 1 Having no further need of help, had she no further 
remembrance of the man who had tried to help her ? Were 
we never to meet again 1 



120 The Two Destinies. 

I said to myself, " I am unworthy of the name of man, if I 
don't forget her now ! " She still kept her place in my memory, 
say what I might. 

I saw all the wonders of Nature and Art which foreign coun- 
tries could show me. I lived in the dazzling light of the best 
society that Paris, Rome, Vienna could assemble. I passed 
hours on hours in the company of the most accomplished and 
most beautiful women whom Europe could produce and still 
that solitary figure at Saint Anthony's Well, those grand grey 
eyes which had rested on me so sadly at parting, held their 
place in my memory, stamped their image on my heart. 

Whether I resisted my infatuation, or whether I submitted 
to it, I still longed for her. I did all I could to conceal the 
state of my mind from my mother. But her loving eyes dis- 
covered the secret : she saw that I suffered, and suffered with 
me. More than once she said, " George, the good end is not 
to be gained by travelling ; let us go home." More than once 
I answered with the bitter and obstinate resolution of despair, 
"No ! let us try more new people, and more new scenes." It 
was only when I found her health and strength beginning to 
fail under the stress of continual travelling, that I consented to 
abandon the hopeless search after oblivion, and to turn home- 
ward at last. 

I prevailed on my mother to wait and rest at my house in 
London, before she returned to her favourite abode at the coun- 
try seat in Perthshire. It is needless to say that I remained in 
town with her. My mother now represented the one interest 
that held me nobly and endearingly to life. Politics, literature, 
agriculture the customary pursuits of a man in my position 
had none of them the slightest attraction for me. 



Not Cured Yet. 121 

We had arrived in London at what is called "the height of 
the season." Among the operatic attractions of that year I 
am writing of the days when the ballet was still a popular form 
of public entertainment there was a certain dancer whose 
grace and beauty were the objects of universal admiration. I 
was asked if I had seen her wherever I went, until my social 
position as the one man who was indifferent to the reigning 
goddess of the stage became quite unendurable. On the next 
occasion when I was invited to take a seat in a friend's box, I 
accepted the proposal ; and (far from willingly) I went the way 
of the world in other words, I went to the opera. 

The first part of the performance had concluded when we got 
to the theatre, and the ballet had not yet begun. My friends 
amused themselves with looking for familiar faces in the boxes 
and stalls. I took a chair in a corner and waited, with my 
mind far away from the theatre, for the dancing that was to 
come. The lady who sat nearest to me (like ladies in general) 
disliked the neighbourhood of a silent man. She determined 
to make me talk to her. 

" Do tell me, Mr. Germaine," she said, " did you ever see 
a theatre anywhere so full as this theatre is to-night ? " 

She handed me her opera glass as she spoke. I moved to the 
front of the box to look at the audience. 

It was certainly a wonderful sight. Every available atom of 
space (as I gradually raised the glass from the floor to the ceil- 
ing of the building) appeared to be occupied. Looking upward 
and upward, my range of view gradually reached the gallery. 
Even at that distance, the excellent glass which had been put 
into my hands brought the faces of the audience close to me. 



122 The Two Destinies. 

I looked first at the persons who occupied the front row of seats 
in the gallery stalls. 

Moving the opera-glass slowly along the semicircle formed 
by the seats, I suddenly stopped when I reached the middle. 

My heart gave a great leap as if it would bound out of my 
body. There was no mistaking that face among the common- 
place faces near it. I had discovered Mrs. Van Brandt ! 

She sat in front but not alone. There was a man in the 
stall immediately behind her, who bent over her and spoke to 
her from time to time. She listened to him, so far as I could 
see, with something of a sad and weary look. Who was the 
man 1 I might, or might not, find that out. Under any cir- 
cumstances, I determined to speak to Mrs. Van Brandt. 

The curtain rose for the ballet. I made the best excuse I 
could to my friends, and instantly left the box. 

It was useless to attempt to purchase my admission to the 
gallery. My money was refused. There was not even stand- 
ing room left in that part of the theatre. 

But one alternative remained. I returned to the street, to 
wait for Mrs. Van Brandt at the gallery door until the per- 
formance was over. 

Who was the man in attendance on her the man whom I 
had seen sitting behind her and talking familiarly over her shoul- 
der 1 While I paced backwards and forwards before the door, 
that one question held possession of my mind, until the op- 
pression of it grew beyond endurance. I went back to my 
friends in the box, simply and solely to look at the man again. 

What excuses I made to account for my strange conduct, I 
cannot now remember. Armed once more with the lady's 
opera-glass (I borrowed it, and kept it, without scruple), I 



Not Cured Yet. 123 

alone, of all that vast audience, turned my back on the stage, 
and riveted my attention on the gallery stalls. 

There he sat, in his place behind her, to all appearance spell- 
bound by the fascinations of the beautiful dancer. Mrs. Van 
Brandt, on the contrary, seemed to find but little attraction in 
the spectacle presented by the stage. She looked at the danc- 
ing (so far as I could see) in an absent, weary manner. When 
the applause broke out in a perfect frenzy of cries and clapping 
of hands, she sat perfectly unmoved by the enthusiasm which 
pervaded the theatre. The man behind her (annoyed, as I 
supposed, by the marked indifference which she showed to the 
performance) tapped her impatiently on the shoulder, as if he 
thought that she was quite capable of falling asleep in her 
stall ! The familiarity of the action confirming the suspicion 
in my mind which had already identified him with Van Brandt 
so enraged me that I did or said something which obliged 
one of the gentlemen in the box to interfere. " If you can't 
control yourself," he whispered, "you had better leave us." 
He spoke with the authority of an old friend. I had sense 
enough to take his advice, and return to my post at the gallery 
door. 

A little before midnight, the performance ended. The au- 
dience began to pour out of the theatre. 

I drew back into a corner behind the door, facing the gallery 
stairs, and watched for her. After an interval which seemed 
to be endless, she and her companion appeared, slowly descend- 
ing the stairs. She wore a long dark cloak : her head was pro- 
tected by a quaintly-shaped hood, which looked (on her) the 
most becoming head-dress that a woman could wear. As the 



124 The Two Destinies. 

two passed me, I heard the man speak to her in a tone of sulky 
annoyance. 

" It's wasting money," he said, " to go to the expense of 
taking you to the opera." 

" I am not well," she answered, with her head down and 
her eyes on the ground. " I am out of spirits to-night." 

" Will you ride home, or walk ? " 

" I will walk, if you please." 

I followed them, unperceived ; waiting to present myself to 
her until the crowd about them had dispersed. In a few min- 
utes they turned into a quiet by-street. I quickened my pace 
until I was close at her side a .d then I took off my hat and 
spoke to her. 

She recognised me with a cry of astonishment. For an in- 
stant her face brightened radiantly with the loveliest expres- 
sion of delight that I ever saw in any human countenance. 
The moment after, all was changed ! The charming features 
saddened and hardened : she stood before me, like a woman 
overwhelmed by shame without uttering a word, without 
taking my offered hand. 

Her companion broke the silence. 

" Who is this gentleman 1 " he asked, speaking in a foreign 
accent, with an underbred insolence of tone and manner. 

She controlled herself the moment he addressed her. " This 
is Mr. Germaine," she answered. " A gentleman who was 
very kind to me in Scotland." She raised her eyes for a mo- 
ment to mine, and took refuge, poor soul, in a conventionally 
polite inquiry after my health. " I hope you are quite well, 
Mr. Germaine," said the soft, sweet voice, trembling piteously. 

I made the customary reply, and explained that I had seen 



Not Cured Yet. 125 

her at the opera. " Are you staying in London \ " I asked. 
" May I have the honour of calling on you 1 " 

Her companion answered for her, before she could speak. 

" My wife thanks you, sir, for the compliment you pay her. 
She doesn't receive visitors. We both wish you good night." 

Saying these words, he took off his hat, with a sardonic as- 
sumption of respect, and, holding her arm in his, forced her to 
walk on abruptly with him. Feeling certainly assured by this 
time that the man was no other than Van Brandt, I was on 
the point of answering him sharply, when Mrs. Yan Brandt 
checked the rash words as they rose to my lips. 

"For my sake !" she whispered over her shoulder, with an 
imploring look that instantly silenced me. After all, she was 
free (if she liked) to go back to the man who had so vilely de- 
ceived and deserted her. I bowed, and left them, feeling with 
no common bitterness the humiliation of entering into rivalry 
with Mr. Van Brandt. 

I crossed to the other side of the street. Before I had taken 
three steps away from her, the old infatuation fastened its 
hold on me again. I submitted, without a struggle against 
myself, to the degradation of turning spy, and followed them 
home. Keeping well behind, on the opposite side of the way, 
I tracked them to their own door, and entered in my pocket- 
book the name of the street and the number of the house. 

The hardest critic who reads these lines cannot feel more 
contemptuously towards me than I felt towards myself. Could 
I still love a woman after she had deliberately preferred to me 
a scoundrel who had married her while he was the husband of 
another wife 1 Yes ! knowing what I now know, I felt that I 
loved her just as dearly as ever. It was incredible ; it was 



126 The Two Destinies. 



shocking but it was true. For the first time in my life, I 
tried to take refuge from my sense of my own degradation in 
drink. I went to my club and joined a convivial party at a 
supper-table, and poured glass after glass of champagne down 
my throat without feeling the slightest sense of exhilaration, 
without losing for an instant the consciousness of my own con- 
temptible conduct. I went to my bed in despair ; and, through 
the wakeful night, I weakly cursed the fatal evening at the 
riverside when I had met her for the first time. But, revile 
her as I might, despise myself as I might, I loved her I loved 
her still ! 

Among the letters laid on my table the next morning, there 
were two which must find their place in this narrative. 

The first letter was in a handwriting which I had seen once 
before, at the hotel in Edinburgh. The writer was Mrs. Van 
Brandt. 

" For your own sake " (the letter ran), " make no attempt to 
see me, and take no notice of an invitation which I fear you 
will receive with this note. I am living a degraded life I 
have sunk beneath your notice. You owe it to yourself, sir, to 
forget the miserable woman who now writes to you for the last 
time, and bids you gratefully a last farewell." 

Those sad lines were signed in initials only. It is needless 
to say that they merely strengthened my resolution to see her 
at all hazards. I kissed the paper on which her hand had 
rested and then I turned to the second letter. It contained 
the " invitation " to which my ^correspondent had alluded, and 
it was expressed in these terms : 

" Mr. Van Brandt presents his compliments to Mr. Germaine, 
and begs to apologise for the somewhat abrupt manner in which 



Not Cured Yet. 127 



he received Mr. Germaine's polite advances. Mr. Van Brandt 
suffers habitually from nervous irritability, and he felt particu- 
larly ill last night. He trusts Mr. Germaine will receive this 
candid explanation in the spirit in which it is offered ; and he 
begs to add that Mrs. Yan Brandt will be delighted to receive 
Mr. Germaine whenever he may find it convenient to favour 
her with a visit." 

That Mr. Van Brandt had some sordid interest of his own 
to serve in writing this grotesquely-impudent composition, and 
that the unhappy woman who bore his name was heartily 
ashamed of the proceeding on which he had ventured, were 
conclusions easily drawn after reading the two letters. The 
suspicion of the man and of his motives which I naturally felt 
produced no hesitation in my mind as to the course which I 
had determined to pursue. On the contrary, I rejoiced that 
my way to an interview with Mrs. Van Brandt was smoothed, 
no matter with what motives, by Mr. Van Brandt himself. 

I waited at home until noon and then I could wait no 
longer. Leaving a message of excuse for my mother (I had 
just sense of shame enough left to shrink from facing her), I 
hastened away to profit by my invitation, on the very day when 
I had received it f 




CHAPTER XIV. 

MRS. VAN BRANDT AT HOME. 

S I lifted my hand to ring the house-bell, the door 
opened from within, and no less a person than 
Mr. Van Brandt himself stood before me ! He 
had his hat on ; we had evidently met just as he 
was going out. 

" My dear sir, how good this is of you ! You 
present the best of all replies to my letter, in presenting your- 
self. Mrs. Van Brandt is at home Mrs. Van Brandt will be 
delighted. Pray walk in." 

He threw open the door of a room on the ground floor. His 
politeness was (if possible) even more offensive than his inso- 
lence. "Be seated, Mr. Germaine, I beg of you!" He turned 
to the open door and called up the stairs, in a loud and confi- 
dent tone 

" Mary ! Come down directly ! " 

" Mary ! " I knew her Christian name at last and knew it 
through Van Brandt. No words can tell how the name jarred 
on me, spoken by his lips ! For the first time for years past, 
my mind went back to Mary Dermody and Green water Broad. 
The next moment, I heard the rustling of Mrs. Van Brandt's 
dress on the stairs. As the sound caught my ear, the old times 



Mrs. Van Brandt at Home. 



and the old faces vanished again from my thoughts as complete- 
ly as if they had never existed. What had slie in common with 
the frail, shy little child, her namesake of other days 1 What 
similarity was perceivable in the sooty London lodging-house, 
to remind me of the bailiffs flower-scented cottage by the shores 
of the lake 1 

Van Brandt took off his hat, and bowed to me with sicken- 
ing servility. 

" I have a business appointment," he said, " which it is im- 
possible to put off. Pray excuse me. Mrs. Van Brandt will 
do the honours. Good morning." 

The house door opened and closed again. The rustling of 
the dress came slowly nearer and nearer. She stood before me. 

" Mr. Germaine ! " she exclaimed, starting back as if the bare 
sight of me repelled her. " Is this honourable 1 Is this worthy 
of you 1 You allow me to be entrapped into receiving you 
and you accept as your accomplice Mr. Van Brandt ! Oh, sir, I 
have accustomed myself to look up to you as a high-minded 
man ! How bitterly you have disappointed me ! " 

Her reproaches passed by me unheeded. They only height- 
ened her colour ; they only added a new rapture to the luxury 
of looking at her. 

" If you love me as faithfully as I love you," I said, "you 
would understand why I am here. No sacrifice is too great if 
it brings me into your presence again, after two years of ab- 
sence." 

She suddenly approached me, and fixed her eyes in eager 
scrutiny on my face. 

" There must be some mistake," she said. " You cannot pos- 
sibly have received my letter, or you have not read it T' 



130 The Two Destinies. 

11 I have received it ; and I have read it." 

11 And Van Brandt's letter? You have read that, too 1 " 

"Yes." 

She sat down by the table, and, leaning her arms on it, 
covered her face with her hands. My answers seemed not only 
to have distressed, but to have perplexed her. " Are men all 
alike 1 ?" I heard her say. " I thought I might trust in his sense 
of what was due to himself, and of what was compassionate 
towards me." 

I closed the door, and seated myself by her side. She re- 
moved her hands from her face when she felt me near her. She 
looked at me with a cold and steady surprise. 

u What are you going to do ? " she asked. 

" I am going to try if I can recover my place in your estima- 
tion," I said. " I am going to ask your pity for a man whose 
whole heart is yours, whose whole life is bound up in you." 

She started to her feet, and looked round her incredulously, 
as if doubting whether she had rightly interpreted my last 
words. Before I could speak again, she suddenly faced me, 
and struck her open hand on the table with a passionate re- 
solution which I now saw in her for the first time. 

" Stop ! " she cried. " There must be an end to this. And an 
end there shall be. Do you know who that man is who has 
just left the house 1 Answer me, Mr. Germaine ! I am speaking 
in earnest." 

There was no choice but to answer her. She was indeed in 
earnest vehemently in earnest. 

" His letter tells me," I said, " that he is Mr. Van Brandt." 

She sat down again, and turned her face away from me. 



Mrs. Van Brandt at Home. 131 

"Do you know how he came to write to you ? " she asked. 
" Do you know what made him invite you to this house 1 " 

I thought of the suspicion that had crossed my mind when 
1 read Van Brandt's letter I made no reply. 

" You force me to tell you the truth," she went on. " He 
asked me who you were, last night, on our way home. I knew 
that you were rich, and that he wanted money I told him I 
knewjiothing of your position in the world. He was too cunning 
to believe me ; he went out to the public-house, and looked at a 
Directory. He came back, and said, l Mr. Germaine has a 
house in Berkeley Square, and a country seat in the Highlands ; 
he is not a man for a poor devil like me to offend : I mean to 
make a friend of him, and I expect you to make a friend of 
him too. He sat down, and wrote to you. I am living under 
that man's protection, Mr. Germaine ! His wife is not dead, as 
you may suppose she is living, and I know her to be living. 
I wrote to you that I was beneath your notice ; and you have 
obliged me to tell you why. Am I sufficiently degraded to 
bring you to your senses 1 " 

I drew closer to her. She tried to get up, and leave me. I 
knew my power over her, and used it (as any man in my place 
would use it) without scruple. I took her hand. 

" I don't believe you have voluntarily degraded yourself/' I 
said. " You have been forced into your present position there 
are circumstances which excuse you, and which you are pur- 
posely keeping back from me. Nothing will conveince me that 
you are a base woman ! Should I love you as I love you, if you 
were really unworthy of me 1 " 

She struggled to free her hand I still held it. She tried to 
change the subject. 



132 77/6' Two Destinies. 

" There is one thing you hav'n't told me yet," she said, with 
a faint, forced smile. " Have you seen the apparition of me 
again since I left you ? " 

" No. Have you ever seen me again, as you saw me in your 
dream at the inn in Edinburgh 1 " 

" Never ! Our visions of each other have left us. Can 
you tell why 1 " 

If we had continued to speak on this subject, we must aurely 
have recognised each other. But the subject dropped. In- 
stead of answering her question, I drew her nearer to me I 
returned to the forbidden subject of my love. 

" Look at me," I pleaded, " and tell me the truth. Can 
you see me, can you hear me ; and do you feel no answering 
sympathy in your own heart ] Do you really care nothing for 
me ] Have you never once thought of me in all the time 
that has passed since we last met 1 " 

I spoke as I felt fervently, passionately. She made a last 
effort to repel me ; and yielded even as she made it. Her 
hand closed on mine ; a low sigh fluttered on her lips. She 
answered with a sudden self-abandonment ; she recklessly cast. 
herself loose from the restraints which had held her up to this 
time. 

" I think of you perpetually," she said. u I was thinking 
of you at the opera last night. My heart leapt in me when I 
heard your voice in the street." 

" You love me ! " I whispered. 

" Love you 1 " she repeated. " My whole heart goes out to 
you, in spite of myself ! Degraded as I am, unworthy as I am 
knowing as I do that nothing can ever come of it I love 
you ! I love you ! " 



Mrs. Van Brandt at Home. 133 

She threw her arms round my neck, and held me to her with 
all her strength. The moment after, she dropped on her 
knees. 

" Oh, don't tempt me ! " she said. " Be merciful, and leave 
me !" 

I was beside myself; I spoke as recklessly to her as she had 
spoken to me. 

" Prove that you love me," I said. " Let me rescue you 
from the degradation of living with that man. Leave him at 
once, and for ever. Leave him, and come with me to a future 
that is worthy of you your future as my wife ! " 

" Never ! " she answered, crouching low at my feet. 

" Why not 1 What obstacle is there ? " 

" I can't tell you ! I daren't tell you." 

" Will you write it 1 " 

" No ! I can't even write it to you. Go, I implore you, 
before Van Brandt comes back. Go, if you love me and pity 
me." 

She had roused my jealousy ; I positively refused to leave 
her. 

" I insist on knowing what binds you to that man," I said. 
11 Let him come back ! If you won't answer my question, I 
will put it to him. 11 

She looked at me wildly, with a cry of terror she saw my 
resolution in my face. 

" Don't frighten me," she said. " Let me think." 

She reflected for a moment. Her eyes brightened, as if 
some new way out of the difficulty had occurred to her. 

" Have you a mother living 1 " she asked. 

" Yes." 



134 The Two Destinies. 



" Do you think she would come and see me 1 " 

" I am sure she would, if I asked her." 

She considered with herself once more. " I will tell your 
mother what the obstacle is," she said thoughtfully. 

" When ? " 

"To-morrow at this time." 

She raised herself on her knees ; the tears suddenly filled 
her eyes. She drew me to her gently. " Kiss me," she whis- 
pered. " You will never come here again. Kiss me for the 
last time." 

My lips had barely touched hers when she started to her 
feet, and snatched up my hat from the chair on which I had 
placed it. 

" Take your hat," she said. " He has come back." 

My duller sense of hearing had discovered nothing. I rose, 
and took my hat to quiet her. At the same moment, the door 
of the room opened suddenly and softly. Mr. Van Brandt 
came in. I saw in his face that he had some vile motive of his 
own for trying to take us by surprise, and that the result of 
the experiment had disappointed him. 

" You are not going yet 1 " he said, speaking to me, with his 
eye on Mrs. Van Brandt. "I have hurried over my business, 
in the hope of prevailing on you to stay and take lunch with 
us. Put down your hat, Mr. Germaine. No ceremony ! " 

" You are very good," I answered. " My time is limited to- 
day. I must beg you and Mrs. Van Brandt to excuse me." 

I took leave of her as I spoke. She turned deadly pale 
when she shook hands with me at parting. Had she any open 
brutality to dread from Van Brandt as soon as my back was 
turned 1 The bare suspicion of it made my blood boil. But I 



Mrs. Van Brandt at Home. 135 

thought of her. In her interests, the wise thing and the merci- 
ful thing to do was to conciliate the fellow before I left the 
house. 

" I am sorry not to be able to accept your invitation," I said, 
as we walked together to the door. " Perhaps you will give 
me another chance ? " 

His eyes twinkled cunningly. " What do you say to a quiet 
little dinner here 1 " he asked. " A slice of mutton, you know, 
and a bottle of good wine. Only our three selves, and one 
old friend of mine, to make up four. We will have a rubber 
of whist in the evening. Mary and you partners eh 1 When 
shall it be 1 Shall we say the day after to-morrow ? " 

She had followed us to the door, keeping behind Van Brandt 
while he was speaking to me. When he mentioned the " old 
friend " and the " rubber of whist," her face expressed the 
strongest emotions of shame and disgust. The next moment 
(when she had heard him fix the date of the dinner for " the 
day after to-morrow ") her features became composed again as 
if a sudden sense of relief had come to her. What did the 
change mean 1 " To-morrow " was the day she had appointed 
for seeing my mother. Did she really believe, when I had 
heard what passed at the interview, that I should never enter 
the house again, and never attempt to see her more 1 And 
was this the secret of her composure, when she heard the date 
of the dinner appointed for " the day after to-morrow ? " 

Asking myself these questions, I accepted my invitation, 
and left the house with a heavy heart. That farewell kiss, 
that sudden composure when the day of the dinner was fixed, 
weighed on my spirits. I would have given twelve years of 
my life to have annihilated the next twelve hours. 



130 The Two Destinies. 



In this frame of mind I reached home, and presented my- 
self in my mother's sitting-room. 

" You have gone out earlier than usual to-day," she 
said. " Did the fine weather tempt you, my dear ? " She 
paused, and looked at me more closely. " George ! " she 
exclaimed, " what has happened to you 1 Where have you 
been ? " 

I told her the truth as honestly as I have told it here. 

The colour deepened in my mother's face. She looked at 
me, and spoke to me, with a severity which was rare indeed in 
my experience of her. 

" Must I remind you, for the first time in your life, of 
what is due to your mother?" she asked. "Is it possible 
that you expect me to visit a woman who, by her own confes- 
sion " 

" I expect you to visit a woman who has only to say 
the word, and to be your daughter-in-law," I interposed. 
" Surely I am not asking what is unworthy of you, if I ask 
that ? " 

My mother looked at me in black dismay. 

"Do you mean, George, that you have offered her mar- 
riage?" 

" Yes." 

"And she has said, No?" 

" She has said, No because there is some obstacle in her 
way. I have tried vainly to make her explain herself. She 
has promised to confide everything to you." 

The serious nature of the emergency had its effect. My 
mother yielded. She handed me the little ivory tablets on 



Mrs. Van Brandt at Home. 137 



which she was accustomed to record her engagements. " Write 
down the name and address/' she said resignedly. 

"I will go with you," I answered, " and wait in the carriage 
at the door. I want to hear what has passed between you and 
Mrs. Van Brandt the instant you have left her." 

" Is it as serious as that, George 1 " 

"Yes, mother, it is as serious as that." 





CHAPTER XV. 

THE OBSTACLE BEATS ME. 

jLOW long was I left alone in the carriage, at the door 
of Mrs. Van Brandt's lodgings ? Judging by my 
sensations, I waited half a life-time. Judging by 
my watch, I waited half an hour. 

When my mother returned to me, the hope 
which I had entertained of a happy result from 
her interview with Mrs. Van Brandt, was a hope abandoned 
before she had opened her lips. I saw, in her face, that an 
obstacle which was beyond my power of removal, did indeed 
stand between me and the dearest wish of my life. 

" Tell me the worst," I said, as we drove away from the 
house ; " and tell it at once." 

''I must tell it to you, George," my mother answered sadly, 
" as she told it to me. She begged me herself to do that. 
* We must disappoint him/ she said, ' but pray let it be done 
as gently as possible/ Beginning in those words, she confided 
to me the painful story which you know already the story of 
her marriage. From that she passed to her meeting with you 
at Edinburgh, and to the circumstances which have led her to 
live as she is living now. This latter part of her narrative she 
especially requested me to repeat to you. Do you feel composed 
enough to hear it now ? or would you rather wait ? " 



The Obstacle Beats Me. 139 



" Let me hear it now, mother and tell it, as nearly as you 
can, in her own words." 

" I will repeat what she said to me, my dear, as faithfully 
as I can. After speaking of her father's death, she told me 
bhat she had only two relatives living. ' I have a married aunt 
in Glasgow, and a married aunt in London,' she said. 'When 
I left Edinburgh, I went to my aunt in London. She and my 
father had not been on good terms together ; she considered 
;hat my father had neglected her. But his death had softened 
tier towards him and towards me. She received me kindly, 
and she got me a situation in a shop. I kept my situation for 
three months ; and then I was obliged to leave it.' J> 

My mother paused. I thought directly of the strange post- 
script which Mrs. Yan Brandt had made me add to the letter 
that I wrote for her at the Edinburgh inn. In that case also 
she had only contemplated remaining in her employment for 
three months' time. 

" Why was she obliged to leave her situation 1" I asked. 

" I put that question to her myself," replied my mother. 
" She made no direct reply she changed colour, and looked 
confused. 'I will tell you afterwards, madam/ she said. 
* Please let me go on now. My aunt was angry with me for 
leaving my employment and she was more angry still, when 
I told her the reason. She said I had failed in duty towards 
her in not speaking frankly at first. We parted coolly. I had 
saved a little money from my wages : and did well enough 
while my savings lasted. When they came to an end, I tried 
to get employment again and I failed. My aunt said, and 
said truly, that her husband's income was barely enough to 
support his family : she could do nothing for me, and I conld 



140 The Two Destinies. 

do nothing for myself. I wrote to my aunt at Glasgow, and 
received no answer. Starvation stared me in the face when 
I saw in a newspaper an advertisement addressed to me by 
Mr. Van Brandt. He implored me to write to him ; he de- 
clared that his life without me was too desolate to be endured ; 
he solemnly promised that there should be no interruption to 
my tranquillity if I would return to him. If I had only my- 
self to think of, I would have begged my bread in the streets 
rather than return to him ' " 

I interrupted the narrative at that point. 

"What other person could she have to think of? " I said. 

" Is it possible, George," my mother rejoined, "that yon 
have no suspicion of what she was alluding to, when she said 
those words ? " 

The question passed by me unheeded : my thoughts were 
dwelling bitterly on Van Brandt and his advertisement. " She 
answered the advertisement, of course 1 " I said. 

" And she saw Mr. Van Brandt," my mother went on. " She 
gave me no detailed account of the interview between them. 
' He reminded me/ she said, 'of what I knew to be true ( 
that the woman who had entrapped him into marrying her was 
an incurable drunkard, and that living with her again was out 1 
of the question. Still she was alive, and she had a right to^; 
the name at least of his wife. I won't attempt to excuse my . 
returning to him, knowing the circumstances as I did. I will 
only say that I could see no other choice before me in my posi- 
tion at the time. It is needless to trouble you with what I 
have suffered since, or to speak of what I may suffer still. 
I am a lost woman. Be under no alarm, madam, about your 
son. I shall remember proudly, to the end of my life, that he i 



The Obstacle Beats Me. 141 

rice offered me the honour and happiness of becoming his wife 
but I know what is due to him and to you. I have seen 
im for the last time. The one thing that remains to be done 
s to satisfy him that our marriage is impossible. You are a 
mother ; you will understand why I reveal the obstacle which 
tands between us not to him, but to you.' She rose saying 
hose words, and opened the folding doors which led from 
he parlour into a back room. After an absence of a few mo- 
ments only, she returned." 

At that crowning point in the narrative, my mother stopped. 
as she afraid to go on % or did she think it needless to say 
more 1 ? 

" Well 1 I said. 

" Mast I really tell it to you in words, George 1 Can't you 
uess how it ended even yet ? " 

There were two difficulties in the way of my understanding 
ler. I had a man's bluntness of perception, and I was half 
maddened by suspense. Incredible as it may appear, I was too 
.ull to guess the truth, even now. 

" When she returned to me," my mother resumed, " she was 
not alone. She had with her a lovely little girl, just old enough 
o walk with the help of her mother's hand. She tenderly 
dssed the child ; and then she put it on my lap. ' There is my 
nly comfort,' she said simply ; and there is the obstacle to my 
ever becoming Mr. Germaine's wife/ " 
Van Brandt's child ! Van Brandt's child ! 
The postscript which she had made me add to my letter 
'he incomprehensible withdrawal from ithe employment in 
which she was prospering ; the disheartening difficulties which 
had brought her .to the very brink of starvation ; the degrad- 



142 The Two Destinies. 

ing return to the man who had cruelly deceived her all 
was explained, all was excused now ! With an infant at the 
breast, how could she obtain a new employment 1 With famine 
staring her in the face, what else could the friendless woman 
do but to return to the father of her child ? What claim had 
I on her, by comparison with Mm ? What did it matter now, 
that the poor creature secretly returned the love that I felt for 
her ? There was the child, an obstacle between us there was 
his hold on her, now that he had got her back ! What was my 
hold worth ? All social proprieties and all social laws answered 
the question : Nothing ! 

My head sank on my breast I received the blow in silence. 

My good mother took my hand. " You understand it now, 
George 1 " she said, sorrowfully. 

" Yes mother : I understand it." 

" There was one thing she wished me to say to you, my 
dear, which I have not mentioned yet. She entreats you not 
to suppose that she had the faintest idea of her situation when 
she attempted to destroy herself. Her first suspicion that it 
was possible she might become a mother was conveyed to | 
her at Edinburgh, in a conversation with her aunt. It is im- ! 
possible, George, not to feel compassionately towards this poor 
woman. Regretable as her position is, I cannot see that she 
is to blame for it. She was the innocent victim of a vile fraud, 
when that man married her ; she has suffered undeservedly 
since ; and she has behaved nobly to you and to me. I 
only do her justice in saying that she is a woman in a thousand 
a woman worthy, under happier circumstances, to be my 
daughter and your wife. I feel for you, and feel with you, my 
dear I do, with my whole heart," 



The Obstacle Beats Me. 143 

So this scene in my life was, to all appearance, a scene closed 
for ever. As it had been with my love in the days of my 
boyhood, so it was again now with the love of my riper age ! 

Later in the day, when I had in some degree recovered my 
self-possession, I wrote to Mr. Van Brandt as she had fore- 
seen I should write ! to apologise for breaking my engage- 
ment to dine with him. 

Could 1 trust to a letter, also, to say the farewell words for me 
to the woman whom I had loved and lost 1 No ! It was better 
for her, and better for me, that I should not write. And yet, 
the idea of leaving her in silence was more than my fortitude 
could endure. Her last words at parting (as they were re- 
peated to me by my mother) had expressed a hope that I should 
not think hardly of her in the future. How could I assure 
her that I should think of her tenderly to the end of my life 1 
My mother's delicate tact and true sympathy showed me the 
way. " Send a little present, George," she said, " to the child. 
You bear no malice to the poor little child 1 " God knows I 
was not hard on the child ! I went out myself and bought 
her a toy. I brought it home, and before I sent it away I 
pinned a slip of paper to it, bearing this inscription : " To 
your little daughter, from George Germaine." There is no- 
thing very pathetic, I suppose, in those words. And yet, I 
burst out crying when I had written them. 

The next morning my mother and I set forth for my country 
house in Perthshire. London was now unendurable to me. 
Travelling abroad I had tried already. Nothing was left but 
to go back to the Highlands, and to try what I could make of 
my life, with my mother still left to live for. 




CHAPTER XVI. 

MY MOTHER'S DIARY. 

HERE is something repellant to me, even at this 
distance of time, in looking back at the dreary 
days of seclusion which followed each other mono- 
tonously in my Highland home. The actions of 
my life, however trifling they may have been, I 
can find some interest in recalling : they associ- 
ate me with my fellow-creatures ; they connect me in some 
degree with the vigorous movement of the world. But I 
have no sympathy with the purely selfish pleasure which 
some men appear to derive from dwelling on the minute ana- 
tomy of their own feelings, under the pressure of adverse for- 
tune. Let the domestic record of our stagnant life in Perth- 
shire (so far as I am concerned in it) be presented in my 
mother's words, not in mine. A few lines of extract from the 
daily journal which it was her habit to keep will tell all that 
need be told, before this narrative advances to later dates and 
to newer scenes. 



20th August. We have been two months at our home in 
Scotland, and I see no change in George for the better. He 
is as far as ever, I fear, from being reconciled to his separation 
from that unhappy woman, Nothing will induce him to con- 






My Mothers Diary. I ir> 

fess it himself. He declares that his quiet life here with me 
is all that he desires. But I know better ! I have been into 
his bedroom late at night. I have heard him talking of her in 
his sleep, and I have seen the tears on his eyelids. My poor 
boy ! What thousands of charming women there are who 
would ask nothing better than to be his wife. And the one 
woman whom he can never marry is the only woman whom he 
loves. 

" 25th. A long conversation about George with Mr. Mac- 
Glue. I have never liked this Scotch doctor since he encour- 
aged my son to keep the fatal appointment at Saint Anthony's 
Well. But he seems to be a clever man in his profession, and 
I think, in his way, he means kindly towards George. His 
advice was given as coarsely as usual, and very positively at 
the same time. 'Nothing will cure your son, madam, of his 
amatory passion for that half-drowned lady of his but change 
and another lady. Send him away by himself this time, 
and let him feel the want of some kind creature to look after 
him. And when he meets with that kind creature (they are 
as plenty as fish in the sea), never trouble your head about it 
if there's a flaw in her character. I have got a cracked tea-cup 
which has served me for twenty years. Marry him, ma'am, to 
the new one with the utmost speed and impetuosity which the 
law will permit.' I hate Mr. MacGlue's opinions so coarse 
and so hard-hearted ! but I sadly fear that I must part with 
my son for a little while, for his own sake. 

" 26th. Where is George to go ? I have been thinking of 
it all through the night, and I cannot arrive at a conclusion. 
It is so difficult to reconcile myself to letting him go away 

alone. 

K 



146 The Two Destinies. 

" 29th. I have always believed in special Providences, 
and I am now confirmed in my belief. This morning has 
brought with it a note from our good friend and neighbour at 
Belhelvie. Sir James is one of the Commissioners for the 
Northern Lights. He is going in a Government vessel to in- 
spect the lighthouses on the north of Scotland, and on the 
Orkney and Shetland Islands and, having noticed how worn 
and ill my poor boy looks, he most kindly invites George to 
be his guest on the voyage. They will not be absent for more 
than two months ; and the sea (as Sir James reminds me) did 
wonders for George's health when he returned from India. I 
could wish for no better opportunity than this of trying what 
change of air and scene will do for him. However painfully I 
may feel the separation myself, I shall put a cheerful face on 
it, and I shall urge George to accept the invitation. 

" 30th. I have said all I could, but he still refuses to 
leave me. I am a miserable, selfish creature. I felt so glad 
when he said ' No.' 

" 31st. Another wakeful night. George must positively 
send his answer to Sir James to-day. I am determined to do 
my duty towards my son he looks so dreadfully pale and ill 
this morning ! Besides, if something is not done to rouse him, 
how do I know that he may not end in going back to Mrs. 
Van Brandt after all ? From every point of view, I feel bound 
to insist on his accepting Sir James's invitation. I have only 
to be firm, and the thing is done. He has never yet disobeyed 
me, poor fellow. He will not disobey me now. 

" 2nd September. He has gone ! Entirely to please me 
entirely against his own wishes. Oh, how is it that such a 
good son cannot get a good wife 1 He would make any woman 



My Mothers Diary. 



happy. I wonder whether I have done right in sending him 
away 1 The wind is moaning in the fir plantation at the back 
of the house. Is there a storm at sea ? I forgot to ask Sir 
James how big the vessel was. The Guide to Scotland says 
the coast is rugged ; and there is a wild sea between the north 
shore and the Orkney Islands. I almost regret having insisted 
so strongly how foolish I am ! We are all in the hands of 
God. May God bless and prosper my good son ! 

" 10th. Very uneasy. No letter from George. Ah, how 
full of trouble this life is ! and how strange that we should 
cling to it as we do ! 

" 15th. A letter from George ! They have done with the 
north coast ; and they have crossed the wild sea to the Orkneys. 
Wonderful weather has favoured them so far; and George 
is in better health and spirits. Ah ! how much happiness 
there is in life if we will only have the patience to wait for it. 

" 2nd October. Another letter. They are safe in the har- 
bour of Lerwick, the chief port in the Shetland Islands. The 
weather has not latterly been at all favourable. But the 
amendment in George's health remains. He writes most grate- 
fully of Sir James's unremitting kindness to him. I am so 
happy ] I declare I could kiss Sir James though he is a great 
man, and a Commissioner for Northern Lights ! In three 
weeks more (wind and weather permitting) they hope to get 
back. Never mind my lonely life here, if I can only see George 
happy and well again ! He tells me they have passed a great 
deal of their time on shore ; but not a word does he say about 
meeting any ladies. Perhaps they are^ scarce in those wild 
regions 1 I have heard of Shetland shawls and Shetland 
ponies. Are there any Shetland ladies, I wonder ? " 




CHAPTER XVII. 

SHETLAND HOSPITALITY. 

UIDE! Where are we?" 
" I can't say for certain." 
" Have you lost your way ? " 
The guide looks slowly all round him, and then 
looks at me. That is his answer to my question. 
And that is enough. 
The lost persons are three in number my travelling com- 
panion, myself and the guide. We are seated on three Shet- 
land ponies so small in stature that we two strangers were at 
first literally ashamed to get on their backs. We are sur- 
rounded by dripping white mist so dense that we become in- 
visible to one another at a distance of half a dozen yards. We 
know that we are somewhere on the mainland of the Shetland 
Isles. We see under the feet of our ponies a mixture of moor- 
land and bog ; here, the strip of firm ground that we are stand- 
ing on ; and there, a few feet off, the strip of watery peat-bog, 
which is deep enough to suffocate us if we step into it. Thus 
far, and no farther, our knowledge extends. The question of 
the moment is What are we to do next ? 

The guide lights his pipe, and reminds me that he warned 
us against the weather before we started for our ride. My 



Shetland, Hospitality. 149 

travelling companion looks at me resignedly, with an expres- 
sion of mild reproach. I deserve it. My rashnest 3 to blame 
for the disastrous position in which we now find ourselves. 

In writing to my mother I have been careful to report 
favourably of my health and spirits. But I have not confessed 
that I still remember the day when I parted with the one hope 
and renounced the one love which made life precious to me. 
My torpid condition of mind, at home, has simply given place 
to a perpetual restlessness, produced by the excitement of my 
new life. I must now always be doing something no matter 
what, so long as it diverts me from my own thoughts. Inaction 
is unendurable ; solitude has become horrible to me. While 
the other members of the party which has accompanied Sir 
James on his voyage of inspection among the light-houses are 
content to wait in the harbour of Lerwick for a favourable 
change in the weather, I am obstinately bent on leaving the 
comfortable shelter of the vessel to explore some inland ruin 
of pre-historic times, of which I never heard, and for which I 
care nothing. The movement is all I want ; the ride will fill 
the hateful void of time. I go, in defiance of sound advice 
offered to me on all sides. The youngest member of our party 
catches the infection of my recklessness (in virtue of his youth), 
and goes with me. And what has come of it 1 We are blinded 
by mist ; we are lost on a moor ; and the treacherous peat- 
bogs are round us in every direction. 

What is to be done ? 

" Just leave it to the pownies," the guide says. 

" Do you mean leave the ponies to find the way ]" 

" That's it," says the guide. " Drop the bridle and leave it 
to the pownies. See for yourselves. I'm away 



150 The Two Destinies. 

He drops his bridle on the pommel of his saddle, whistles to 
his pony, and disappears in the mist ; riding with his hands 
in his pockets, and his pipe in his mouth, as composedly as if 
he was sitting by his own fireside at home. 

We have no choice but to follow his example, or to be left 
alone on the moor. The intelligent little animals, relieved 
from our stupid supervision, trot off with their noses to the 
ground, like hounds on the scent. Where the intersecting 
tract of bog is wide, they skirt round it. Where it is narrow 
enough to be leapt over, they cross it by a jump. Trot ! trot ! 
away the hardy little creatures go ; never stopping, never 
hesitating. Our "superior intelligence," perfectly useless in 
the emergency, wonders how it will end. Our guide, in front 
of us, answers that it will end in the ponies finding their way 
certainly to the nearest village or the nearest house. " Let the 
bridles be," is his one warning to us. " Come what may of it, 
let the bridles be." 

It is easy for the guide to let his bridle be he is accustomed 
to place himself in that helpless position under stress of circum- 
stances, and he knows exactly what his pony can do. 

To us, however, the situation is a new one ; and it looks 
dangerous in the extreme. More than once I check myself, not 
without an effort, in the act of resuming the command of my 
pony on passing the more dangerous points in the journey. 
The time goes on ; and no sign of an inhabited dwelling looms 
through the mist. I begin to get fidgety and irritable ; I find 
myself secretly doubting the trustworthiness of the guide. 
While I am in this unsettled frame of mind, my pony approaches 
a dim black winding line, where the bog must be crossed 
for the hundredth time at least. The breadth of it (deceptively 



Shetland Hospitality. 151 

enlarged in appearance by the mist) looks to my eyes beyond 
the reach of a leap by any pony that ever was foaled. I lose 
my presence of mind. At the critical moment before the jump 
is taken, I am foolish enough to seize the bridle, and suddenly 
check the pony. He starts, throws up his head, and falls in- 
stantly as if he had been shot. My right hand, as we drop on 
the ground together, gets twisted under me, and I feel that I 
have sprained my wrist. 

If I escape with no worse injury than this, I may consider 
myself well off. But no such good fortune is reserved for me. 
In his struggles to rise before I had completely extricated my- 
self from him, the pony kicks me ; and, as my ill-luck will 
have it, his hoof strikes, just where the poisoned spear struck 
me in the past years of my service in India. The old wound 
opened again and there I lay bleeding on the barren Shetland 
moor! 

This time, my strength has not been exhausted in attempt- 
ing to breast the current of a swift-flowing river with a drown- 
ing woman to support. I preserve my senses ; and I am able 
to give the necessary directions for bandaging the wound with 
the best materials which we have at our disposal. To mount 
my pony again is simply out of the question. I must remain 
where I am, with my travelling companion to look after me ; 
and the guide must trust his pony to discover the nearest place 
of shelter to which I can be removed. 

Before he abandons us on the moor, the man (at my sugges- 
tion) takes our " bearings/' as correctly as he can by the help 
of my pocket compass. This done, he disappears in the mist, 
with the bridle hanging loose, and the. pony's nose to the 
ground, as before. I am left, under my young friend's c;nc. 



152 The Two Destinies. 

with a cloak to lie on, and a saddle for a pillow. Our ponies 
composedly help themselves to such grass as they can find on 
the moor ; keeping always near us as companionably as if they 
were a couple of dogs. In this position we wait events, while 
the dripping mist hangs thicker than ever all round us. 

The slow minutes follow each other wearily in the majestic 
silence of the moor. We neither of us acknowledge it in 
words, but we both feel that hours may pass before the guide 
discovers us again. The penetrating damp slowly strengthens 
its clammy hold on me. My companion's pocket-flask of sherry 
has about a teaspoonful of wine left in the bottom of it. We 
look at one another having nothing else to look at in the pre- 
sent state of the weather and we try to make the best of it. 
So the slow minutes follow each other, until our watches tell us 
that forty minutes have elapsed since the guide and his pony 
vanished from our view. 

My friend suggests that we may as well try what our voices 
can do towards proclaiming our situation to any living creature 
who may, by the barest possibility, be within hearing of us. 
I leave him to try the experiment ; having no strength to spare 
for vocal efforts of any sort. My companion shouts at the 
highest pitch of his voice. Silence follows his first attempt. 
He tries again and, this time, an answering hail reaches us 
faintly through the white fog. A fellow- creature of some sort, 
guide or stranger, is near us help is coming at last ! 

An interval passes ; and voices reach our ears the voices of 
two men. Then, the shadowy appearance of the two becomes 
visible in the mist. Then, the guide advances near enough to 
be identified. He is followed by a sturdy fellow, in a com- 
posite dress, which presents him under the double aspect of a 



Shetland Hospitality. 153 

groom and a gardener. The guide speaks a few words of 
rough sympathy. The composite man stands by impenetrably 
silent : the sight of a disabled stranger fails entirely either to 
surprise or to interest the gardener-groom. 

After a little private consultation, the two men decide to 
cross their hands, and thus make a seat for me between them. 
My arms rest on their shoulders ; and so they carry me off. 
My friend trudges behind them, with the saddle and the cloak. 
The ponies caper and kick, in unrestrained enjoyment of their 
freedom; and sometimes follow, sometimes precede us, as the 
humour of the moment inclines them. I am, fortunately for 
my bearers, a light weight. After twice resting, they stop 
altogether, and set me down on the driest place they can find. 
I look eagerly through the mist for some signs of a dwelling- 
house and I see nothing but a little shelving beach, and a 
sheet of dark water beyond. Where are we 1 

The gardener-groom vanishes, and appears again on the 
water, looming large in a boat. I am laid down in the bottom 
of the boat, with my saddle pillow ; and we shove off, leaving 
the ponies to the desolate freedom of the moor. They will 
pick up plenty to eat (the guide says) ; and when night comes 
on they will find their own way to shelter in a village hard by. 
The last I see of the hardy little creatures they are taking a 
drink of water, side by side, and biting each other sportively, 
in higher spirits than ever ! 

Slowly we float over the dark water not a river, as I had 
at first supposed, but a lake until we reach the shores of a 
little island ; a flat, lonely, barren patch of ground. I am 
carried along a rough pathway made of great flat stones, until 
we reach the firmer earth, and discover a human dwelling-place 



154 The Two Destinies. 

at last. It is a long, low house of one story high ; forming (as 
well as I can see) three sides of a square. The door stands 
hospitably open. The hall within is bare and cold and dreary. 
The men open an interior door and we enter a long corridor, 
comfortably warmed by a peat fire. On one wall, I notice the 
closed oaken doors of rooms ; on the other, rows on rows of 
well-filled book-shelves met my eye. Advancing to the end of 
the passage, we turn at right angles into a second. Here, a 
door is opened at last : I find myself in a spacious room, com- 
pletely and tastefully furnished, having two beds in it, and a 
large fire burning in the grate. The change to this warm and 
cheerful place of shelter from the chilly and misty solitude of 
the moor is so luxuriously delightful, that I am quite content, 
for the first few minutes, to stretch myself on a bed, in lazy 
enjoyment of my new position, without caring to inquire into 
whose house we have intruded ; without even wondering at the 
strange absence of master, mistress, or member of the family to 
welcome our arrival under their hospitable roof. 

After awhile, the first sense of relief passes away. My dor- 
mant curiosity revives. I begin to look about me. 

The gardener-groom has disappeared. I discover my travel- 
ling companion at the farther end of the room, evidently occu- 
pied in questioning the guide. A word from me brings him 
to my bedside. What discoveries has he made 1 whose is the 
house in which we are sheltered ? and how is it that no mem- 
ber of the family appears to welcome us 1 

My friend relates his discoveries. The guide listens atten- 
tively to the second-hand narrative, as if it was quite new to 
him. 

The house that shelters us belongs to a gentleman of 



Shetland Hospitality. 155 

ancient northern, lineage whose name is Dunross. He has 
lived in unbroken retirement on the barren island for twenty 
years past, with no other companion than a daughter, who is 
his only child. He is generally believed to be one of the most 
learned men living. The inhabitants of Shetland know him 
far and wide, under a name in their dialect which means, 
being interpreted, " The Master of Books." The one occasion 
on which he and his daughter have been known to leave their 
island retreat, was at a past time when a terrible epidemic dis- 
ease broke out among the villages in the neighbourhood. 
Father and daughter laboured day and night among their poor 
and afflicted neighbours, with a courage which no danger could 
shake, with a tender care which no fatigue could exhaust. The 
father had escaped infection, and the violence of the epidemic 
was beginning to wear itself out, when the daughter caught the 
disease. Her life had been preserved, but she never completely 
recovered her health. She is now an incurable sufferer from 
some mysterious nervous disorder which nobody understands, 
and which has kept her a prisoner on the island, self-withdrawn 
from all human observation, for years past. Among the poor 
inhabitants of the district, the father and daughter are wor- 
shipped as semi-divine beings. Their names came after the 
Sacred Name, in the prayers which the parents teach to the 
children. 

Such is the household (so far as the guide's story goes) on 
whose privacy we have intruded ourselves ! The narrative has 
a certain interest of its own, no doubt, but it has one defect 
it fails entirely to explain the continued absence of Mr. Dun- 
ross. Is it possible that he is not aware of our presence in 



156 The Two Destinies. 

the house ? We apply to the guide, and make a few further 
inquiries of him. 

" Are we here," I ask, " by permission of Mr. Dunross 1 ?" 

The guide stares. If I had spoken to him in Greek or 
Hebrew, I could hardly have puzzled him more effectually. My 
friend tries him with a simpler form of words. 

" Did you ask leave to bring us here when you found your 
way to the house 1 " 

The guide stares harder than ever, with every appearance of 
feeling perfectly scandalized by the question. 

" Do you think," he asks sternly, " that I am fool enough to 
disturb the Master over his books, for such a little matter as 
bringing you and your friend into this house 1 " 

" Do you mean that you have brought us here without first 
asking leave 1 " I exclaim in amazement. 

The guide's face brightens ; he has beaten the true state of 
the case into our stupid heads at last ! " That's just what I 
mean ! ' ; he says with an air of infinite relief. 

The door opens before we have recovered the shock inflicted 
on us by this extraordinary discovery. A little lean old gen- 
tleman, shrouded in a long black dressing-gown, quietly enters 
the room. The guide steps forward, and respectfully closes 
the door for him. We are evidently in the presence of The 
Master of Books. 



CHAPTER XVIIL 




THE DARKENED ROOM. 

HE little gentleman advances to my bedside. His 
silky white hair flows over his shoulders ; he looks 
at us with faded blue eyes; he bows with a sud 
and subdued courtesy, and says in the simplest 
manner, " I bid you welcome, gentlemen, to my 
house." 

We are not content with merely thanking him ; we naturally 
attempt to apologize for our intrusion. Our host defeats the 
attempt at the outset, by making an apology on his own 
behalf. 

" I happened to send for my servant a minute since," he 
proceeds, " and I only then heard that you were here. It is a 
custom of the house that nobody interrupts me over my books. 
Be pleased, sir, to accept my excuses," he adds, addressing him- 
self to me, " for not having sooner placed myself and my 
household at your disposal. You have met, as I am sorry to 
hear, with an accident. Will you permit me to send for me- 
dical help 1 I ask the question a little abruptly, fearing that 
time may be of importance, and knowing that our nearest 
doctor lives at some distance from this house." 

He speaks with a certain quaintly-precise choice of words 



158 The Two Destinies. 

more like a man dictating a letter than holding a conversation. 
The subdued sadness of his manner is reflected in the subdued 
sadness of his face. He and sorrow have apparently been old 
acquaintances, and have become used to each other for years 
past. The shadow of some past grief rests quietly and impe- 
netrably over the whole man ; I see it in his faded blue eyes, 
on his broad forehead, on his delicate lips, on his pale shri- 
velled cheeks. My uneasy sense of committing an intrusion 
on him steadily increases, in spite of his courteous welcome. 
I explain to him that I am capable of treating my own case, 
having been myself in practice as a medical man ; and this 
said, I revert to my interrupted excuses. I assure him that it 
is only within the lest few moments that my travelling com- 
panion and I have become aware of the liberty which our 
guide has taken in introducing us, on his own sole responsibi- 
lity, to the house. Mr. Dunross looked at me, as if he, like 
the guide, failed entirely to understand what my scruples and 
excuses mean. After a while the truth dawns on him. A 
faint smile flickers over his face ; he lays his hand in a gentle 
fatherly way on my shoulder 

" We are so used here to our Shetland hospitality," he says, 
" that we are slow to understand the hesitation which a 
stranger feels in taking advantage of it. Your guide is in no 
respect to blame, gentlemen. Every house in these islands 
which is large enough to contain a spare room has its Guests' 
Chamber, always kept ready for occupation. When you travel 
my way, you come here as a matter of course; you stay here as 
long as you like \ and, when you go away, I only do my duty 
as a good Shetlander in accompanying you on the first stage of 
your journey to bid you God-speed. The customs of centuries 



The Darkened Room. 159 

past elsewhere, are modern customs here. I beg of you to 
give my servant all the directions which are necessary to your 
comfort, just as freely as you could give them in your own 
house." 

He turns aside to ring a handbell on the table as he speaks ; 
and notices in the guide's face plain signs that the man has 
taken offence at my disparaging allusion to him. 

" Strangers cannot be expected to understand our ways, 
Andrew," says the Master of Books. " But you and I under- 
stand one another and that is enough." 

The guide's rough face reddens with pleasure. If a crowned 
king on a throne had spoken condescendingly to him, he could 
hardly have looked more proud of the honour conferred than 
he looks now. He makes a clumsy attempt to take the Mas- 
ter's hand and kiss it. Mr. Dunross gently repels the attempt, 
and gives him a little pat on the head. The guide looks at me 
and my friend, as if he had been honoured with the highest 
distinction that an earthly being can receive. The Master's 
hand had touched him kindly. 

In a moment more the gardener-groom appears at the door 
to answer the bell. 

" You will move the medicine-chest into this room, Peter," 
says Mr. Dunross. " And you will wait on this gentleman, 
who is confined to his bed by an accident, exactly as you would 
wait on me if I was ill. If we both happen to ring for you 
together, you will answer his bell before you answer mine. 
The usual changes of linen are of course ready in the wardrobe 
there ? Very good. Go now, and tell the cook to prepare a 
little dinner ; and get a bottle of the old Madeira out of the 
cellar. You will spread the table, for to-day at least, in 



160 The Two Destinies. 



room. These two gentlemen will be best pleased to dine toge- 
ther. Return here in five minutes' time, in case you are 
wanted ; and show my guest, Peter, that I am right in believ- 
ing you to be a good nurse as well as a good servant." 

The silent and surly Peter brightens under the expression 
of the Master's confidence in him, as the guide brighten d un- 
der the influence of the Master's caressing touch. The two 
men leave the room together. 

We take advantage of the momentary silence that follows, 
to introduce ourselves by name to our host, and to inform him 
of the circumstances under which we happen to be visiting 
Shetland. He listens in his subdued, courteous way ; but he 
makes no inquiries about our relatives ; he shows no interest in 
the arrival of the Government yacht and the Commissioner for 
Northern Lights. All sympathy with the doings of the outer 
world, all curiosity about persons of social position and notoriety, 
is evidently at an end in Mr. Dunross. For twenty years the 
little round of his duties and his occupations has been enough 
for him. Life has lost its priceless value to this man and 
when Death comes to him, he will receive the King of Terrors 
as he might receive the last of his guests. 

"Is there anything else I can do," he says, speaking more 
to himself than to us, " before I go back to my books 1 

Something else occurs to him, even as he puts the question. 
He addresses my companion, with his faint sad smile. "This 
will be a dull life, I am afraid, sir, for you. If you happen to 
be fond of angling, I can offer you some little amusement in 
that way. The lake is well stocked with fish ; and I have a 
boy employed in the garden, who will be glad to attend on 
you in the boat." 



The Darkened Room. 161 

My friend happens to be fond of fishing, and gladly accepts 
the invitation. The Master says his parting words to me, be- 
fore he goes back to his books. 

" You may safely trust my man Peter to wait on you, Mr. 
Germaine, while you are so unfortunate as to be confined to 
this room. He has the advantage (in cases of illness) of being 
a very silent, undemonstrative person. At the same time he is 
careful and considerate, in his own reserved way. As to what 
I may term the lighter duties at your bedside such as read- 
ing to you, writing your letters for you while your right hand 
is still disabled, regulating the temperature in the room, and 
so on though I cannot speak positively, I think it likely that 
these little services may be rendered to you by another person 
whom I have not mentioned yet. We shall see what happens 
in a few hours' time. In the meanwhile, sir, I ask permission 
to leave you to your rest." 

With those words, he walks out of the room as quietly as he 
walked into it, and leaves his two guests to meditate gratefully 
on Shetland hospitality. We both wonder what those last 
mysterious words of our host mean ; and we exchange more or 
less ingenious guesses on the subject of that nameless " other 
person," who may possibly attend on me until the arrival of 
dinner turns our thoughts into a new course. 

The dishes are few in number, but cooked to perfection and 
admirably served. I am too weary to eat much ; a glass of the 
fine old Madeira revives me. We arrange our future plans 
while we are engaged over the meal. Our return to the yacht 
in Lerwick harbour is expected on the next day at the latest. 
As things are, I can only leave my companion to go back to 
the vessel, and relieve the minds of our friends of any needless 



162 The Two Destinies. 

alarm about me. On the day after, I engage to send on board 
a written report of the state of my health, by a messenger who 
can bring my portmanteau back with him. 

These arrangements decided on, my friend goes away (at my 
own request) to try his skill as an angler in the lake. Assisted 
by the silent Peter and the well-stocked medicine chest, I apply 
the necessary dressings to my wound ; wrap myself in the com- 
fortable morning gown which is always kept ready in the 
Guests' Chamber ; and lie down again on the bed to try the re- 
storative virtues of sleep. 

Before he leaves the room, silent Peter goes to the window, 
and asks in fewest possible words if he shall draw the curtains. 
In fewer words still for I am feeling drowsy already T answer 
No. I dislike shutting out the cheering light of day. To my 
morbid fancy, at that moment, it looks like resigning myself 
deliberately to the horrors of a long illness. The handbell is 
on my bedside table ; and I can always ring for Peter if the 
light keeps me from sleeping. On this understanding, Peter 
mutely nods his head and goes out. 

For some minutes I lie in lazy contemplation of the com- 
panionable fire. Meanwhile, the dressings on my wound and 
embrocation on my sprained wrist steadily subdue the pains 
which I have felt so far. Little by little, the bright fire seems 
to be fading. Little by little, sleep steals on me, and all my 
troubles are forgotten. 

I wake, after what seems to have been a long repose I wake, 
feeling the bewilderment which we all experience on opening 
our eyes for the first time in a bed and a room that are new to 
us. Gradually collecting my thoughts, I find my perplexity 
considerably increased by a trifling but curious circumstance. 



The Darkened Room. 163 

The curtains which I had forbidden Peter to touch, are 
drawn closely drawn, so as to plunge the whole room in 
obscurity. And more surprising still, a high screen with fold- 
ing sides stands before the fire, and confines the light which it 
might otherwise give, exclusively to the ceiling. I am literally 
enveloped in shadows. Has night come ? 

In lazy wonder, I turn my head on the pillow, and look on 
the other side of my bed. 

Dark as it is, I discover instantly that I am not alone. 

A shadowy figure stands by my bedside. The dim outline 
of the dress tells me that it is the figure of a woman. Strain- 
ing my eyes, I fancy I can discern a wavy black object cover- 
ing her head and shoulders which looks like a large veil. Her 
face is turned towards me ; but no distinguishing feature in it 
is visible. She stands like a statue, with her hands crossed in 
front of her, faintly relieved against the dark substance of her 
dress. This I can see and this is all. 

There is a moment of silence. The shadowy being finds its 
voice, and speaks first. 

" I hope you feel better, sir, after your rest ? " 

The voice is low, with a certain faint sweetness of tone which 
falls soothingly on my ear. The accent is unmistakably the 
accent of a refined and cultivated person. After making my 
acknowledgments to the unknown and half-seen lady, 1 venture 
to ask the inevitable question, " To whom have I the honour 
of speaking ? " 

The lady answers, " I am Miss Dunross ; and I hope, if you 
have no objection to it, to help Peter in nursing you." 

This, then, is the " other person " dimly alluded to by our 
host ! I think directly of the heroic conduct of Miss Dunross 



164 The Two Destinies. 

among her poor and afflicted neighbours ; arid I do not forget 
the melancholy result of her devotion to others which has left 
her an incurable invalid. My anxiety to see this lady more 
plainly increases a hundred-fold. I beg her to add to my 
grateful sense of her kindness by telling me why the room is 
so dark. " Surely," I say, " it cannot be night already 1 " 

" You have not been asleep," she answers, " for more than 
two hours. The mist has disappeared, and the sun is shining." 

I took up the bell, standing on the table at my side. 

" May I ring for Peter, Miss Dunross ?" 

" To open the curtains, Mr. Germaine ? " 

" Yes with your permission. I own I should like to see 
the sun-light/' 

" I will send Peter to you immediately." 

The shadowy figure of my new nurse glides away. In an- 
other moment, unless I say something to stop her, the woman 
whom I am so eager to see will have left the room. 

" Pray don't go ! " I say. " I cannot think of troubling you 
to take a trifling message for me. The servant will come in, 
if I only ring the bell" 

She pauses more shadowy than ever half-way between the 
bed and the door, and answers a little sadly, 

" Peter will not let in the daylight while I am in the room. 
He closed the curtains by my order." 

The reply puzzles me. Why should Peter keep the room 
dark while Miss Dunross is in it 1 Are her eyes weak 1 No : 
if her eyes were weak, they would be protected by a shade. 
Dark as it is, I can see that she does not wear a shade. Why 
has the room been darkened, if not for me 1 I cannot ven- 



The Darkened Room. 165 

ture on asking the question I can only make my excuses in 
due form. 

" Invalids only think of themselves/' I say. " I supposed 
that you had kindly darkened the room on my account." 

She glides back to my bedside before she speaks again. 
When she does answer, it is in these startling words : 

" You were mistaken, Mr. Germaine. Your room has been 
darkened not on your account, but on mine" 





CHAPTER XIX. 

THE CATS. 

ISS DUNEOSS had so completely perplexed me, 
that I was at a loss what to say next. 

To ask her plainly why it was necessary to 
keep the room in darkness while she remained 
in it, might prove (for all I knew to the con- 
trary) to be an act of downright rudeness. To 
venture on any general expression of sympathy with her, know- 
ing absolutely nothing of the circumstances, might place us 
both in an embarrassing position at the outset of our acquain- 
tance. The one thing I could do was to beg that the present 
arrangement of the room might not be disturbed, and to leave 
her to decide as to whether she would admit me to her con- 
fidence or exclude me from it, at her own sole discretion. 

She perfectly understood what was going on in my mind. 
Taking a chair at the foot of the bed, she told me simply 
and unreservedly the sad secret of the darkened room. 

" If you wish to see much of me, Mr. Germaine," she began, 
"you must accustom yourself to the world of shadows in 
which it is my lot to live. Some time since, a dreadful illness 
raged among the people on our part of this island ; and I was 
so unfortunate as to catch the infection. When I recovered 



The Cats. 167 



no ! ' Eecovery ' is not the right word to use let me say when 
I escaped death, I found myself afflicted by a nervous malady 
which has defied medical help from that time to this. I am 
suffering (as the doctors explain it to me) from a morbidly 
sensitive condition of the nerves near the surface to the action 
of light. If I were to draw the curtains, and look out of that 
window, I should feel the acutest pain all over my face. If I 
covered my face, and drew the curtains with my bare hands, I 
should feel the same pain in my hands. You can just see per- 
haps that I have a very large and very thick veil on my head. 
I let it fall over my face and neck and hands, when I have oc- 
casion to pass along the corridors, or to enter my father's study 
and I find it protection enough. Don't be too ready to de- 
plore my sad condition, sir ! I have got so used to living in 
the dark that I can see quite well enough for all the purposes 
of my poor existence. I can read and write in these shadows 
I can see you, and be of use to you in many little ways, if 
you will let me. There is really nothing to be distressed about. 
My life will not be a long one I know and feel that. But I 
hope to be spared long enough to be my father's companion 
through the closing years of his life. Beyond that, I have no 
prospect. In the meanwhile, I have my pleasures ; and I mean 
to add to my scanty little stock the pleasure of attending on 
you. You are quite an event in my life. I look forward to 
reading to you and writing for you, as some girls look forward 
to a new dress, or a first ball. Do you think it very strange 
of me to tell you so openly just what I have in my mind 1 I 
can't help it ! I say what I think to my father, and to our 
poor neighbours hereabouts and I can't alter my ways at a 
moment's notice. I own it when I like people ; and I own it 



168 The Two Destinies. 

when I don't. I have been looking at you while you were 
asleep ; and I have read your face as I might read a book. 
There are signs of sorrow on your forehead and your lips 
which it is strange to see in so young a face as yours. I am 
afraid I shall trouble you with many questions about yourself 
when we become better acquainted with each other. Let me 
begin with a question, in my capacity as nurse. Are your pil- 
lows comfortable 1 I can see they want shaking up. Shall I 
send for Peter to raise you 1 I am unhappily not strong enough 
to be able to help you in that way. No *? You are able to raise 
yourself 1 Wait a little. There ! Now lie back and tell me 
if I know how to establish the right sort of sympathy between 
a tumbled pillow and a weary head." 

She had so indescribably touched and interested me, stranger 
as I was, that the sudden cessation of her faint sweet tones 
affected me almost with a sense of pain. In trying (clumsily 
enough) to help her with the pillows, I accidentally touched 
her hand. It felt so cold and so thin, that even the momentary 
contact with it startled me. I tried vainly to see her face, now 
that it was more within reach of my range of view. The mer- 
ciless darkness kept it as complete a mystery as ever. Had 
my curiosity escaped her notice 1 Nothing escaped her notice ! 
Her next words told me plainly that I had been discovered. 

" You have been trying to see me," she said. " Has my 
hand warned you not to try again 1 I felt that it startled you 
when you touched it just now." 

Such quickness of perception as this was not to be deceived ; 
such fearless candour demanded as a right a similar frankness 
on my side. I owned the truth, and left it to her indulgence 
to forgive nie. 



The Cats. 169 



* She returned slowly to her chair at the foot of the bed. 

" If we are to be friends/' she said, " we must begin by un- 
derstanding one another. Don't associate any romantic ideas 
of invisible beauty with me, Mr. Germaine. I had but one 
beauty to boast of before I fell ill my complexion and that 
has gone for ever. There is nothing to see in me now, but the 
poor reflection of my former self ; the ruin of what was once 
a woman. I don't say this to distress you I say it to recon- 
cile you to the darkness as a perpetual obstacle, so far as your 
eyes are concerned, between you and me. Make the best in- 
stead of the worst of your strange position here. It offers you 
a new sensation to amuse you while you are ill. You have a 
nurse who is an impersonal creature a shadow among sha- 
dows ; a voice to speak to you, and a hand to help you, and 
nothing more. Enough of myself ! " she exclaimed, rising and 
changing her tone. "What can I do to amuse you?" She 
considered a little. " I have some odd tastes," she resumed ; 
" and I think I may entertain you if I make you acquainted 
with one of them. Are you like most other men, Mr. Germaine 1 
Do you hate cats ? " 

The question startled me. However, I could honestly an- 
swer that, in this respect at least, I was not like other men. 

" To my thinking," I added, " the cat is a cruelly misunder- 
stood creature especially in England. Women, no doubt, 
generally do justice to the affectionate nature of cats. But 
the men treat them as if they were the natural enemies of the 
human race. The men drive a cat out of their presence if it 
ventures upstairs, and set their dogs at it if it shows itself in 
the street and then they turn round and accuse the poor crea- 



170 The Two Destinies. 

ture (whose genial nature must attach itself to something) of 
being only fond of the kitchen ! " 

The expression of these unpopular sentiments appeared to 
raise me greatly in the estimation of Miss Dunross. 

" We have one sympathy in common, at any rate," she said. 
" Now I can amuse you ! Prepare for a surprise." 

She drew her veil over her face as she spoke, and, partially 
opening the door, rang my handbell. Peter appeared, and re- 
ceived his instructions. 

" Move the screen," said Miss Dunross. Peter obeyed ; the 
ruddy firelight streamed over the floor. Miss Dunross pro- 
ceeded with her directions. " Open the door of the cats' room, 
Peter ; and bring me my harp. Don't suppose that you are going 
to listen to a great player, Mr. G-ermaine," she went on, when 
Peter had departed on his singular errand, " or that you are 
likely to see the sort of harp to which you are accustomed, as 
a man of the modern time. 1 can only play some old Scotch 
airs j and my harp is an ancient instrument (with new strings) 
an heirloom in our family, some centuries old. When you 
see my harp, you will think of pictures of Saint Cecilia and 
you will be treating my performance kindly if you will remem- 
ber, at the same time, that I am no Saint ! " 

She drew her chair into the firelight, and sounded a whistle 
which she took from the pocket of her dress. Tn another mo- 
ment, the lithe and shadowy figures of the cats appeared noise- 
lessly in the red light, answering their mistress's call. I could 
just count six of them, as the creatures seated themselves de- 
murely in a circle round her chair. Peter followed with the 
harp, and closed the door after him as he went out. The streak 
of daylight being now excluded from the room, Miss Dunross 



The Cats. 171 



threw back her veil, and took the harp on her knee ; seating 
herself, I observed, with her face turned away from the fire. 

" You will have light enough to see the cats by," she said, 
" without having too much light for me. Firelight does not 
give me the acute pain which I suffer when daylight falls on 
my face I feel a certain inconvenience from it, and nothing 
more." 

She touched the strings of her instrument the ancient harp, 
as she had said, of the pictured Saint Cecilia ; or rather, as I 
thought, the ancient harp of the Welsh Bards. The sound was 
at first unpleasantly high in pitch, to my untutored ear. At 
the opening notes of the melody a slow wailing dirge-like air 
the cats rose, and circled round their mistress, marching to 
the tune. Now they followed each other singly ; now, at a 
change in the melody, they walked two and two ; and, now 
again, they separated into divisions of three each, and circled 
round the chair in opposite directions. The music quickened, 
and the cats quickened their pace with it. Faster and faster 
the notes rang out, and faster and faster in the ruddy fire-light, 
the cats like living shadows whirled round the still black figure 
in the chair, with the ancient harp on its knee. Anything so 
weird, wild and ghostlike I never imagined before even in a 
dream ! The music changed, and the whirling cats began to 
leap. One perched itself at a bound on the pedestal of the 
harp. Four sprang up together, and assumed their places, two 
on each of her shoulders. The last and smallest of the cats 
took the last leap, and lighted on her head ! There the six 
creatures kept their positions, motionless as statues ! Nothing 
moved but the wan white hands over the harpstrings ; no sound 
but the sound of the music stirred in the room. Once more 



172 The Two Destinies. 

the melody changed. In an instant the six cats were on 
the floor again, seated round the chair as I had seen them on 
their first entrance ; the harp was laid aside j and the faint 
sweet voice said quietly, " I am soon tired I must leave my 
cats to conclude their performances to-morrow." 

She rose, and approached the bedside. 

" I leave you to see the sunset through your window," she 
said. "From the coming of the darkness to the coming of 
breakfast-time, you must not count on my services I am taking 
my rest. I have no choice but to remain in bed (sleeping when 
I can) for twelve hours or more. The long repose seems to 
keep my life in me. Have I and my cats surprised you very 
much 1 Am I a witch ; and are they my familiar spirits 1 
Remember how few amusements 1 have, and you will not won" 
der why I devote myself to teaching these pretty creatures 
their tricks, and attaching them to me like dogs ! They were 
slow at first, and they taught me excellent lessons of patience. 
Now they understand what I want of them, and they learn 
wonderfully well. How you will amuse your friend, when he 
comes back from fishing, with the story of the young lady 
who lives in the dark, and keeps a company of performing 
cats ! I shall expect you to amuse me to-morrow I want you 
to tell me all about yourself, and how you came to visit these 
wild islands of ours. Perhaps, as the days go on, and we get 
better acquainted, you will take me a little more into your 
confidence, and tell me the true meaning of that story of sor- 
row which I read on your face while you were asleep ? I have 
just enough of the woman left in me to be the victim of curi- 
osity, when I meet with a person who interests me. Good-bye 
till to-morrow ! I wish you a tranquil night, and a pleasant 



The Cats. 173 



waking. Come, my familiar spirits come, my cat-children ! 
it's time we went back to our own side of the house." 

She dropped the veil over her face and, followed by her 
train of cats, glided out of the room. 

Immediately on her departure, Peter appeared, and drew 
back the curtains. The light of the setting sun streamed in at 
the window. At the same moment, my travelling companion 
returned in high spirits, eager to tell me about his fishing in 
the lake. The contrast between what I saw and heard now, 
and what I had seen and heard only a few minutes since, was 
so extraordinary and so startling that I almost doubted whether 
the veiled figure with the harp, and the dance of cats, were 
not the fantastic creations of a dream. I actually asked my 
friend whether he had found me awake or asleep when he came 
into the room ! 

Evening merged into night. The Master of Books made his 
appearance, to receive the latest news of my health. He spoke 
and listened absently, as if his mind was still preoccupied by 
his studies except when I referred gratefully to his daughter's 
kindness to me. At her name his faded blue eyes brightened ; 
his drooping head became erect ; his sad subdued voice strength- 
ened in tone. 

" Do not hesitate to let her attend on you," he said. " What- 
ever interests or amuses her, lengthens her life. In her life is 
the breath of mine. She is more than my daughter she is 
the guardian -angel of the house ; go where she may, she carries 
the air of Heaven with her. When you say your prayers, sir, 
pray God to leave my daughter here a little longer." 

He sighed heavily ; his head dropped again on his breast 
he left me. 



174 The Two Destinies. 

The hour advanced ; the evening meal was set by my bed- 
side. Silent Peter, taking his leave for the night, developed 
into speech. " I sleep next door," he said. " Ring when you 
want me/' My travelling companion, taking the second bed in 
the room, reposed in the happy sleep of youth. In the house, 
there was dead silence. Out of the house, the low song of the 
night-wind, rising and falling over the lake and the moor, 
was the one sound to be heard. So the first day ended in the 
hospitable Shetland house. 





CHAPTER XX. 

THE GREEN FLAG. 

CONGRATULATE you, Mr. Germaine, on your 
power of painting in words. Your description gives 
me a vivid idea of Mrs. Van Brandt." 

" Does the portrait please you, Miss Dunross 1 " 
" May I speak as plainly as usual ? " 
" Certainly ! " 

" Well, then, plainly, I don't like your Mrs. Van Brandt." 
Ten days had passed ; and thus far Miss Dunross had made 
her way into my confidence already ! 

By what means had she induced me to trust her with those 
secret and sacred sorrows of my life which I had hitherto 
kept for my mother's ear alone 1 I can easily recall the rapid 
and subtle manner in which her sympathies twined themselves 
round mine but I fail entirely to trace the infinite gradations 
of approach, by which she surprised and conquered my habitual 
reserve. The strongest influence of all, the influence of the 
eye, was not hers. When the light was admitted into the 
room, she was shrouded in her veil. At all other times, the 
curtains were drawn, the screen was before the fire I could see 
dimly the outline of her face, and I could see no more. The 
secret of her influence was perhaps partly attributable to the sim- 



176 The Two Destinies. 

pie and sisterly manner in which she spoke to me, and partly to 
the indescribable interest which associated itself with her mere 
presence in the room. Her father had told me that she " car- 
ried the air of Heaven with her." In my experience, I can 
only say that she carried something with her which softly and 
inscrutably possessed itself of my will, and made me as un- 
consciously obedient to her wishes as if I had been her dog. 
The love-story of my boyhood, in all its particulars, down even 
to the gift of the green flag ; the mystic predictions of Dame 
Dermody ; the loss of every trace of my little Mary of former 
days ; the rescue of Mrs. Van Brandt from the river ; the ap- 
parition of her in the summer-house ; the after-meetings with 
her in Edinburgh and in London \ the final parting which had left 
its mark of sorrow on my face all these events, all these suf- 
ferings, I confided to her as unreservedly as I have confided 
them to these pages. And the result, as she sat by me in the 
darkened room, was summed up, with a woman's headlong im- 
petuosity of judgment, in the words that I have just written 
" I don't like your Mrs. Van Brandt ! " 

" Why not ? " I asked. 

She answered instantly, " Because you ought to lve nobody 
but Mary." 

" But Mary has been lost to me since I was a boy of thir- 
teen." 

" Be patient and you will find her again, Mary is patient 
Mary is waiting for you. When you meet her, you will be 
ashamed to remember that you ever loved Mrs. Van Brandt 
you will look on your separation from that woman as the hap- 
piest event of your life. I may not live to hear of it but you 
will live to own that I was right." 



The Green Flag. 177 



Her perfectly-baseless conviction that time would yet bring 
about my meeting with Mary, partly irritated, partly amused 
me. 

" You seem to agree with Dame Dermody," I said. " You 
believe that our two destinies are one. No matter what time 
may elapse, or what may happen in the time, you believe my 
marriage with Mary is still a marriage delayed, and nothing 
more?" 

" I firmly believe it." 

" Without knowing why except that you dislike the idea 
of my marrying Mrs. Van Brandt 1 " 

She knew that this view of her motive was not far from 
being the right one and, womanlike, she shifted the discussion 
to new ground. 

" Why do you call her Mrs. Van Brandt % " she asked. " Mrs. 
Van Brandt is the namesake of your first love. If you are so 
fond of her, why don't you call her Mary ? " 

I was ashamed to give the true reason it seemed so utterly 
unworthy of a man of any sense or spirit. Noticing my hesi- 
tation, she insisted on my answering her ; she forced me to 
make my humiliating confession. 

" The man who has parted us," I said, " called her Mary. I 
hate him with such a jealous hatred that he has even disgusted 
me with the name ! It lost all its charm for me when it passed 
his lips." 

I had anticipated that she would laugh at me. No ! She 
suddenly raised her head as if she was looking at me intently 
in the dark, 

" How fond you must be of that woman " she said. " Do 
you dream of her now ? " 



178 The Two Destinies. 

" I never dream of her now." 

"Do you expect to see the apparition of her again ? " 

" It may be so if a time comes when she is in sore need of 
help, and when she has no friend to look to but me." 

" Did you ever see the apparition of your little Mary 1 " 

" Never ! " 

" But you used once to see her as Dame Dermody predicted 
in dreams 1 " 

11 Yes when I was a lad." 

" And, in the after-time, it was not Mary, but Mrs. Van 
Brandt who came to you in dreams who appeared to you in 
the spirit, when she was far away from you in the body ? Poor 
old Dame Dermody. She little thought in her lifetime, that 
her prediction would be fulfilled by the wrong woman." 

To that result, her inquiries had inscrutably conducted her ! 
If she had only pressed them a little farther if she had not 
unconsciously led me astray again by the very next question that 
fell from her lips she must have communicated to my mind the 
idea obscurely germinating in hers the idea of a possible 
identity between the Mary of my first love and Mrs. Van 
Brandt ! 

" Tell me," she went on. " If you met with your little Mary 
now, what would she be like ? what sort of woman would you 
expect to see 1 " 

I could hardly help laughing. " How can I tell," I rejoined, 
" at this distance of time ? " 

"Try !" she said. 

Reasoning my way from the known personality to the un- 
known. I searched my memory for the image of the frail and 
delicate child of my remembrance ; and I drew the picture of a 



The Green Flag. 179 

frail and delicate woman the most absolute contrast imaginable 
to Mrs. Van Brandt ! 

The half-realized idea of identity in the mind of Miss Dtmross 
dropped out of it instantly, expelled by the substantial con- 
clusion which the contrast implied. Alike ignorant of the 
after-growth of health, strength and beauty which time and 
circumstances had developed in the Mary of my youthful days, 
we had alike completely and unconsciously misled one another. 
Once more, I had missed the discovery of the truth, and missed 
it by a hairsbreadth ! 

" I infinitely prefer your portrait of Mary," said Miss Dunross, 
"to your portrait of Mrs. Van Brandt. Mary realizes my 
idea of what a really attractive woman ought to be. How you 
can have felt any sorrow for the loss of that other person (I 
detest buxom women !) passes my understanding. I can't tell 
you how interested I am in Mary ! I want to know more about 
her. Where is that pretty present of needlework which the 
poor little thing embroidered for you so industriously ? Do let 
nie see the green flag ! " 

She evidently supposed that I carried the green flag about 
me ! I felt a little confused as I answered her. 

" I am sorry to disappoint you. The green flag is some- 
where in my house in Perthshire." 

" You have not got it with you ? " she exclaimed. " You 
leave her keepsake lying about anywhere 1 Oh, Mr. Germaine, 
you have indeed forgotten Mary ! A woman, in your place, 
would have parted with her life rather than part with the one 
memorial left of the time when she first loved ! " 

She spoke with such extraordinary earnestness with such 
agitation, I might almost say that she quite startled me. 



180 The Two Destinies. 

" Dear Miss Dunross," I remonstrated, " the flag is not lost." 

" I should hope not ! " she interposed quickly. " If you lose 
the green flag, you lose the last relic of Mary and more than 
that, if my belief is right." 

" What do you believe 1 " 

" You will laugh at me if I tell you. I am afraid my first 
reading of your face was wrong I am afraid you are a hard 
man." 

" Indeed you do me an injustice. I entreat you to answer 
me as frankly as usual. What do I lose in losing the last 
relic of Mary ? " 

"You lose the one hope I have for you," she answered 
gravely " the hope of your meeting and your marriage with 
Mary in the time to come. I was sleepless last night, and I 
was thinking of your pretty love story by the banks of the 
bright English lake. The longer I thought, the more firmly 
I felt the conviction that the poor child's green flag is destined 
to have its innocent influence in forming your future life. 
Your happiness is waiting for you in that artless little keep- 
sake ! I can't explain or justify this belief of mine. It is one 
of my eccentricities, I suppose like training my cats to per- 
form to the music of my harp. But, if I was your old friend, 
instead of being only your friend of a few days, I would leave 
you no peace I would beg and entreat and persist, as 
only a woman can persist until I had made Mary's gift as 
close a companion of yours, as your mother's portrait in the 
Docket there at your watch chain. While the flag is with you, 
Mary's influence is with you Mary's love is still binding you 
by the dear old tie and Mary and you, after years of separa- 
tion, will meet again ! " 



The Green Flag. 181 

The fancy was in itself pretty and poetical ; the earnestness 
which had given expression to it would have had its influence 
over a man of a far harder nature than mine. I confess she 
had made me ashamed, if she had done nothing more, of my 
neglect of the green flag. 

" I will look for it, the moment I am at home again," I said 
" and I will take care that it is carefully preserved for the 
future." 

"I want more than that," she rejoined. " If you can't wear 
the flag about you, I want it always to be with you to go 
wherever you go. When they brought your luggage here from 
the vessel at Lervvick, you were particularly anxious about the 
safety of your travelling writing-desk the desk there on the 
table. Is there anything very valuable in it ? " 

" It contains my money, and other things that I prize far 
more highly my mother's letters, and some family relics which 
I should be very sorry to lose. Besides, the desk itself has its 
own familiar interest as my constant travelling companion of 
many years past." 

Miss Dunross rose, and came close to the chair in which I 
was sitting. 

" Let Mary's flag be your constant travelling companion," 
she said. " You have spoken far too gratefully of my services 
here as your nurse. Reward me beyond my deserts. Make 
allowances, Mr. Germaine, for the superstitious fancies of a 
lonely dreamy woman. Promise me that the green flag shall 
take its place among the other little treasures in your desk !" 
It is needless to say that I made the allowances and gave the 
promise gave it, resolving seriously to abide by it. For the 



182 The Two Destinies. 

first time since I had known her, she put her poor wasted hand 
in mine, and pressed it for a moment. Acting heedlessly 
under my first grateful impulse, I lifted her hand to my lips 
before I released it. She started trembled and suddenly 
and silently passed out of the room. 




CHAPTER XXI. 

SHE COMES BETWEEN US. 

; HAT emotion had I thoughtlessly aroused in Miss 
Duriross 1 Had I offended or distressed her ? 
Or had I, without meaning it, forced on her 
inner knowledge some deeply-seated feeling 
which she had thus far resolutely ignored 1 

I looked back through the days of my sojourn 
in the house ; I questioned my own feelings and impressions, 
on the chance that they might serve me as a means of solving 
the mystery of her sudden flight from the room. What effect 
had she produced on me ? 

In plain truth, she had simply taken her place in my mind, 
to the exclusion of every other person and every other subject. 
In ten days she had taken a hold of my sympathies of which 
other women would have failed to possess themselves in so 
many years. I remembered, to my shame, that my mother 
had but seldom occupied my thoughts. Even the image of 
Mrs. Van Brandt except when the conversation had turned 
on her had become a faint image in my mind ! As to my 
friends at Lerwick, from Sir James downwards, they had all 
kindly come to see me and I had secretly and ungratefully 
rejoiced when their departure left the scene free for the return 



184 The Two Destinies. 

of ray nurse. In two days more the Government vessel was 
to sail on the return voyage. My wrist was still painful when 
I tried to use it ; but the far more serious injury presented by 
the re-opened wound was no longer a subject of anxiety to my- 
self or to any one about me. I was sufficiently restored to be 
capable of making the journey to Lerwick if I rested for one 
night at a farm half-way between the town and Mr. Dunross's 
house. Knowing this, I had nevertheless left the question of 
rejoining the vessel undecided to the very latest moment. 
The motive which I pleaded to my friends was uncertainty 
as to the sufficient recovery of my strength. The motive which 
I now confessed to myself was reluctance to leave Miss Dunross. 

What was the secret of her power over me ? What emotion, 
what passion, had she awakened in me 1 Was it love 1 

No : not love. The place which Mary had once held in my 
heart, the place which Mrs. Van Brandt had taken in the after- 
time, was not the place occupied by Miss Dunross. How 
could I (in the ordinary sense of the word) be in love with a 
woman whose face I had never seen ? whose beauty had faded, 
never to bloom again ? whose wasted life hung by a thread 
which the accident of a moment might snap 1 The senses have 
their share in all love between the sexes which is worthy 
of the name. They had no share in the feeling with which I 
regarded Miss Dunross. What was the feeling then ? I can 
o^ly answer the question in one Way. The feeling lay too deep 
in me for my sounding. 

What impression had I produced on her ? What sensitive 
chord had I ignorantly touched, when my lips touched her 
hand] 

I confess I recoiled from pursuing the inquiry which I had 



She Comes Between Us. 185 

deliberately set myself to make. I thought of her shattered 
health ; of her melancholy existence in shadow and solitude ; 
of the rich treasures of such a heart and such a mind as hers, 
wasted with her wasting life and I said to myself, Let her 
secret be sacred ! let me never again, by word or deed, bring 
the trouble which tells of it to the surface ! let her heart be 
veiled from me in the darkness which veils her face ! 

In this frame of mind towards her, I waited her return. 

I had no doubt of seeing her again, sooner or later, on that 
day. The post to the south went out on the next day ; and the 
early hour of the morning at which the messenger called for 
our letters, made it a matter of ordinary convenience to write 
overnight. In the disabled state of my hand, Miss Dunross 
had been accustomed to write home for me, under my dictation ; 
she knew that I owed a letter to my mother, and I relied as 
usual on her help. Her return to me, under these circumstances, 
was simply a question of time : any duty which she had once 
undertaken was an imperative duty in her estimation, no 
matter how trifling it might be. 

The hours wore on ; the day drew to its end and still she 
never appeared. 

I left my room to enjoy the last sunny gleam of the day- 
light in the garden attached to the house, first telling Peter 
where I might be found if Miss Dunross wanted me. The 
garden was a wild place, to my southern notions ; but it ex- 
tended for some distance along the shore of the island ; and 
it offered some pleasant views of the lake and the moorland 
country beyond. Slowly pursuing my walk, I proposed to my- 
self to occupy my mind^to some useful purpose by arranging 



186 The Two Destinies. 

beforehand the composition of the letter which Miss Dunross 
was to write. 

To my great surprise, I found it simply impossible to fix my 
mind on the subject. Try as I might, my thoughts persisted 
in wandering from the letter to my mother, and concentrated 
themselves instead on Miss Dunross 1 No. On the question 
of my returning or not returning to Perthshire by the Govern- 
ment vessel ? No. By some capricious revulsion of feeling 
which it seemed impossible to account for, my whole mind was 
now absorbed on the one subject which had been hitherto so 
strangely absent from it the subject of Mrs. Van Brandt ! 

My memory went back, in defiance of all exercise of my own 
will, to my last interview with her. I saw her again ; I heard 
her again. I tasted once more the momentary rapture of our 
last kiss ; I felt once more the pang of sorrow that wrung me 
when I had parted with her and found myself alone in the 
street. Tears of which I was ashamed, though nobody was 
near to see them filled my eyes when I thought of the months 
that had passed since we had last looked on one another, and 
of all that she might have suffered, must have suffered, in that 
time. Hundreds on hundreds of miles were between us and 
yet she was now as near me as if she was walking in the garden 
by my side ! 

This strange condition of my mind was matched by an equally 
strange condition of my body. A mysterious trembling shud- 
dered over me faintly from head to foot. I walked without 
feeling the ground as I trod on it ; I looked about me with no 
distinct consciousness of what the objects were on which my 
eyes rested. My hands were cold and yet I hardly felt it. 
My head throbbed hotly and yet I was not sensible of any 



She Comes Between Us. 187 

pain. It seemed as if I was surrounded and enwrapped in some 
electric atmosphere which altered all the ordinary conditions of 
sensation. I looked up at the clear calm sky, and wondered if 
a thunderstorm was coming. I stopped, and buttoned my coat 
round me, and questioned myself if I had caught a cold, or if I 
was going to have a fever. The sun sank below the moorland 
horizon ; the grey twilight trembled over the dark waters of 
the lake. I went back to the house ; and the vivid memory of 
Mrs. Van Brandt, still in close companionship, went back 
with me. 

The fire in my room had burnt low in my absence. One of 
the closed curtains had been drawn back a few inches, so as to 
admit through the window a ray of the dying light. On the 
boundary limit where the light was crossed by the obscurity 
which filled the rest of the room, I saw Miss Dunross seated, 
with her veil drawn and her writing-case on her knee, waiting 
my return. 

I hastened to make my excuses. I assured her that I had 
been careful to tell the servant where to find me. She gently 
checked me, before I could say more. 

" It's not Peter's fault," she said. " I told him not to hurry 
your return to the house. Have you enjoyed your walk 1 " 

She spoke very quietly. The faint sad voice was fainter and 
sadder than ever. She kept her head bent over her writing- 
case, instead of turning it towards me as usual while we were 
talking. I still felt the mysterious trembling which had op- 
pressed me in the garden. Drawing a chair near the fire, I 
stirred the embers together, and tried to warm myself. Our po- 
sitions in the room left some little distance between us. I could 



188 The Two Destinies. 

only see her sideways, as she sat by the window in the shelter- 
ing darkness of the curtain, which still remained drawn. 

" I think I have been too long in the garden," I said. " I 
feel chilled by the cold evening air." 

" Will you have some more wood put on the fire 1 " she asked. 
" Can I get you anything 1 " 

" No, thank you. I shall do very well here. I see you are 
kindly ready to write for me." 

" Yes," she said, " at your own convenience. When you are 
ready, my pen is ready." 

The unacknowledged reserve that had come between us since 
we had last spoken together was, I believe, as painfully felt by 
her as by me. We were no doubt longing to break through it 
on either side if we had only known how. The writing of 
the letter would occupy us at any rate. I made another effort 
to give my mind to the subject and once more it was an effort 
made in vain. Knowing what I wanted to say to my mother, 
my faculties seemed to be paralysed when I tried to say it. I 
sat cowering by the fire and she sat waiting with her writing- 
case on her lap. 





CHAPTER XXII. 

SHE CLAIMS ME AGAIN. 

HE moments passed ; the silence between us conti- 
, nued. Miss Dunross made an attempt to rouse me. 
" Have you decided to go back to Scotland with 
your friends at Lerwick 1 " she asked. 

" It is no easy matter/' I replied, " to decide on 
leaving my friends in this house." 
Her head drooped lower on her bosom ; her voice sank as 
she answered me 

" Think of your mother," she said. " The first duty you owe 
is your duty to her. Your long absence is a heavy trial to her 
your mother is suffering." 

" Suffering ? " I repeated. " Her letters say nothing " 

" You forget that you have allowed me to read her letters," 
Miss Dunross interposed. " I see the unwritten and uncon- 
scious confession of anxiety in every line that she writes to you. 
You know, as well as I do, that there is cause for her anxiety. 
Make her happy by telling her that you sail for home with your 
friends. Make her happier still by telling her that you grieve 
no more over the loss of Mrs. Van Brandt. May I write it, in 
your name and in those words ? " 

I felt the strangest reluctance to permit her to write in those 
terms, or in any terms, of Mrs. Van Brandt. The unhappy 



190 The Two Destinies. 

love-story of my manhood had never been a forbidden subject 
between us on former occasions. Why did I >feel as if it had 
become a forbidden subject now ? Why did I evade giving her 
a direct reply 1 

" We have plenty of time before us," I said. " I want to 
speak to you about yourself." 

She lifted her hand in the obscurity that surrounded her, as 
if to protest against the topic to which I had returned. I per- 
sisted nevertheless in returning to it. 

" If I must go back," I went on, " I may venture to say to 
you at parting, what I have not said yet. I cannot, and will 
not, believe that you are an incurable invalid. My education, 
as I have told you, has been the education of a medical man. 
I am well acquainted with some of the greatest living physi- 
cians, in Edinburgh, as well as in London. Will you allow me 
to describe your malady (as I understand it) to men who are 
accustomed to treat cases of intricate nervous disorder 1 And 
will you let me write and tell you the result 1 " 

I waited for her reply. Neither by word nor sign did she 
encourage the idea of any future communication with her. I 
ventured to suggest another motive which might induce her to 
receive a letter from me. 

" In any case, I may find it necessary to write to you," I 
went on. " You firmly believe that I and my little Mary are 
destined to meet again. If your anticipations are realized, you 
will expect me to tell you of it, surely ? " 

Once more I waited. She spoke but it was not to reply : 
it was only to change the subject. 

" The time is passing," was all she said. " We have not be- 
gun your letter to your mother yet." 



She Claims Me Again. 191 

It would have been cruel to contend with her any longer. 
Her voice warned me that she was suffering. The faint gleam 
of light through the parted curtains was fading fast. It was 
time indeed to write the letter. I could find other opportuni- 
ties of speaking to her before I left the house. 

" I am ready," I answered. " Let us begin." 

The first sentence was easily dictated to my patient secre- 
tary. I informed my mother that my sprained wrist was near- 
ly restored to use, and that nothing prevented my leaving Shet- 
land when the lighthouse commissioner was ready to return. 
This was all that it was necessary to say on the subject of my 
health ; the disaster of my reopened wound having been, for 
obvious reasons, concealed from my mother's knowledge. Miss 
Dunross silently wrote the opening lines of the letter, and wait- 
ed for the words that were to follow. 

In my next sentence, I announced the date at which the 
vessel was to sail on the return voyage ; and I mentioned the 
period at which my mother might expect to see me, weather 
permitting. Those words also Miss Dunross wrote and waited 
again. To my surprise and alarm I found it impossible to 
fix my mind on the subject. My thoughts wandered away, 
in the strangest manner, from my letter to Mrs. Van Brandt. 
I was ashamed of myself; I was angry with myself ; I resolved, 
no matter what I said, that I would positively finish the letter. 
No ! try as I might, the utmost effort of my will availed me 
nothing. Mrs. Van Brandt's words at our last interview were 
murmuring in my ears not a word of my own would come to 
me ! 

Miss Dunross laid down her pen, and slowly turned her head 
to look at me. 



192 The Two Destinies. 

" Surely you have something more to add to your letter ? " 
she said. 

" Certainly/' I answered. " I don't know what is the matter 
with me. The effort of dictating seems to be beyond my power 
this evening." 

" Can I help you ? " she asked. 

I gladly accepted the suggestion. " There are many things," 
I said, " which my mother would be glad to hear, if I was not 
too stupid to think of them. I am sure I may trust your sym- 
pathy to think of them for me." 

That rash answer offered Miss Dunross the opportunity of 
returning to the subject of Mrs. Van Brandt. She seized the 
opportunity with a woman's persistent resolution when she has 
her end in view, and is determined to reach it at all hazards. 

" You have not told your mother yet," she said, " that your 
infatuation for Mrs. Van Brandt is at an end. Will you put 
it in your own words ? Or shall I write it for you, imitating 
your language as well as I can ? " 

In the state of my mind at that moment, her perseverance 
conquered me. I thought to myself indolently, " If I say No, 
she will only return to the subject again, and she will end (after 
all I owe to her kindness) in making me say Yes." Before I 
could answer her she had realized my anticipations. She re- 
turned to the subject ; and she made me say Yes. 

" What does your silence mean ? " she said. " Do you ask 
me to help you and you refuse to accept the first suggestion I 
offer " 

" Take up your pen," I rejoined. " It shall be as you wish." 

" Will you dictate the words ? " 

" I will try." 



She Claims Me Again. 193 

I tried ; and this time I succeeded. With the image of 
Mrs. Van Brandt vividly present to my mind, I arranged the 
first words of the sentence which was to tell my mother that my 
" infatuation " was at an end ! 

" You will be glad to hear," I began, " that time and change 
are doing their good work." 

Miss Dunross wrote the words, and paused in anticipation of 
the next sentence. The light faded and faded ; the room grew 
darker and darker. I went on : 

" I hope I shall cause you no more anxiety, my dear mother, 
on the subject of Mrs. Van Brandt." 

In the deep silence, I could hear the pen of my secretary 
travelling steadily over the paper while it wrote those words. 
" Have you written V I asked, as the sound of the pen ceased. 
" I have written," she answered, in her customary quiet tones. 
I went on again with my letter. 

" The days pass now, and I seldom or never think of her ; 1 
hope I am resigned at last to the loss of Mrs. Van Brandt." 

As I reached the end of the sentence, I heard a faint cry 
from Miss Dunross. Looking instantly towards her, I could 
just see, in the deepening darkness, that her head had fallen on 
the back of the chair. My first impulse was, of course, to rise 
and go to her. I had barely got to my feet, when some inde- 
scribable dread paralyzed me on the instant. Supporting my- 
self against the chimney-piece, I stood perfectly incapable of 
advancing a step. The effort to speak was the one effort that 
I could make. 

" Are you ill ? " I asked. 

She was able to answer me ; speaking in a whisper, without 
raising her head. 
N 



194 The Two Destinies. 

" I am frightened," she said. 
"What has frightened you 1 " 

I heard her shudder in the darkness. Instead of answering 
me, she whispered to herself, " What am I to say to him f' 

" Tell me what has frightened you," I repeated. " You 
know you may trust me with the truth." 

She rallied her sinking strength. She answered in theae 
strange words : 

II Something has come between me and the letter I am v/rit- 
ing for you." 

" What is it?" 

" I can't tell you." 

" Can you see it 1 " 

" No."" 

" Can you feel it 1 " 

" Yes." 

" What is it like ? " 

" Like a breath of cold air between me and the letter." 

" Has the window come open ? " 

" The window is close shut." 

"And the door?" 

" The door is shut also as well as I can see. Make sure of 
it for yourself. Where are you ? What are you doing 1 " 

I was looking towards the window. As she spoke her last 
words, I was conscious of a change in that part of the room. 

In the gap between the parted curtains there was a new light 
shining not the dim grey twilight of Nature, but a pure and 
starry radiance, a pale unearthly light. While I watched it, 
the starry radiance quivered as if some breath of air had stirred 
it. When it was still again, there dawned on me through the 



She Claims Me Again. 195 

unearthly lustre the figure of a woman. By fine and slow 
gradations, it became more and more distinct. I knew the 
noble figure ; I knew the sad and tender smile. For the second 
time, I stood in the presence of the apparition of Mrs. Van 
Brandt. 

She was robed, not as I had last seen her, but in the dress 
which she had worn on the memorable evening when we met 
on the bridge in the dress in which she had first appeared to 
me by the waterfall in Scotland. The starry light shone round 
her like a halo. She looked at me with sorrowful and pleading 
eyes, as she had looked when I saw the apparition of her in the 
summer-house. She lifted her hand not .beckoning me to 
approach her as before, but gently signing to me to remain 
where I stood. 

I waited feeling awe, but no fear. My heart was all hers 
as I looked at her. 

She moved ; gliding from the window to the chair in which 
Miss Dunross sat ; winding her way slowly round it, until she 
stood at the back. By the light of the pale halo that encircled 
the ghostly Presence, and moved with it, I could see the dark 
figure of the living woman, seated immovable in the chair. 
The writing case was on her lap, with the letter and the pen 
lying on it. Her arms hung helpless at her sides ; her veiled 
head was now bent forward. She looked as if she had been 
struck to stone in the act of trying to rise from her seat. 

A moment passed and I saw the ghostly Presence stoop 
over the living woman. It lifted the writing-case from her 
lap. It rested the writing-case on her shoulder. Its white 
fingers took the pen and wrote on the unfinished letter. It 
put the writing-case back on the lap of the living woman. Still 



196 The Two Destinies. 

standing behind the chair, it turned towards me. It looked at 
me once more. And now it beckoned beckoned me to 
approach. 

Moving without conscious will of my own, as I had moved 
when I first saw her in the summer-house drawn nearer and 
nearer by an irresistible power I approached, and stopped 
within a few paces of her. She advanced, and laid her hand 
on my bosom. Again I felt those strangely mingled sensa- 
tions of rapture and awe, which had once before filled me when 
I was conscious, spiritually, of her touch. Again she spoke, in 
the low melodious tones which I recalled so well. Again she said 
the words : " Remember me. Come to me." Her hand dropped 
from my bosom. The pale light in which she stood quivered, 
sank, vanished. I saw the twilight glimmering between the 
curtains I saw no more. She had spoken. She had gone. 

I was near Miss Duiiross near enough, when I put out my 
hand to touch her. 

She started and shuddered, like a woman suddenly awakened 
from a dreadful dream. 

"Speak to me ! " she whispered. " Let me know that it is 
you who touched me." 

I spoke a few composing words before I questioned her. 

" Have you seen anything in the room ? " 

She answered : "I have been filled with a deadly fear. I 
have seen nothing but the writing-case lifted from my lap." 

" Did you see the hand that lifted it 1 " 

"No." 

" Did you see a starry light, and a figure standing in the 

light r 

"No." 



She Claims Me Again. 197 

" Did you see the writing-case, after it was lifted from your 
lap 1 " 

" I saw it resting on my shoulder." 

" Did you see the writing on the letter which was not your 
writing ? " 

" I saw a darker shadow on the paper than the shadow in 
which I am sitting." 

" Did it move ? " 

"It moved across the paper." 

" In what direction did it move 1 " 

"From right to left." 

" As a pen moves in writing ? " 

" Yes. As a pen moves in writing." 

" May I take the letter ? " 

She handed it to me. 

"May I light a candle r' 

She drew her veil more closely over her face, and bowed in 
silence. 

I lit the candle on he mantel-piece behind her, and looked 
for the writing. 

There, on the blank space in the letter, as I had seen it 
before on the blank space in the sketch-book there were the 
written words which the ghostly Presence had left behind it; 
arranged once more in two lines, as I copy them here 

AT THE MONTH'S END. 

IN THE SHADOW OF ST. PAUL'S. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 




1 V 



THE KISS. 

HE had need of me again. She had claimed me 
again. I felt all the old love, all the old devotion 
owning her power once more. Whatever had mor- 
tified or angered me at the last interview, was for- 
given and forgotten now. My whole being thrilled 
with the mingled awe and rapture of beholding the 
Vision of her that had come to me for the second time. 
The minutes passed and I stood by the fire like a man en- 
tranced ; thinking only of her spoken words, " Remember me. 
Come to me ; " looking at her mystic writing, " At the month's 
end. In the shadow of St. Paul's." 

The month's end was still far off ; the apparition of her had 
shown itself to me, under some subtle prevision of trouble that 
was still in the future. Ample time was before me for the 
pilgrimage to which I was self-dedicated already my pilgri- 
mage to the shadow of St. Paul's. 

Other men, in my position, might have hesitated as to the 
right understanding of the place to which they were bidden. 
Other men might have wearied their memories by recalling the 
churches, the institutions, the streets, the towns in foreign 
countries, all consecrated to Christian reverence by the great 
Apostle's name, and might have fruitlessly asked themselves 



The Kiss. 199 



in which direction they were first to turn their steps. No such 
difficulty troubled me. My first conclusion was the one con- 
clusion that was acceptable to my mind. " Saint Paul's " 
meant the famous Cathedral of London. Where the shadow 
of the great church fell, there, at the month's end, I should find 
her, or the trace of her. In London once more, and nowhere 
else, I was destined to see the woman I loved, in the living 
body, as certainly as I had just seen her in the ghostly presence. 

Who could interpret the mysterious sympathies that still 
united us, in defiance of distance, in defiance of time 1 Who 
could predict to what end our lives were tending in the years 
that were to come ? 

Those questions were still present to my thoughts ; my eyes 
were still fixed on the mysterious writing when I became in- 
stinctively aware of the strange silence in the room. Instantly 
the lost remembrance of Miss Dunross came back to me. 
Stung by my own sense of self-reproach, I turned with a start, 
and looked towards her chair by the window. 

The chair was empty. I was alone in the room. 

Why had she left me secretly, without a word of farewell ? 
Because she was suffering, in mind or body ? Or because she 
resented, naturally resented, my neglect of her 1 

The bare suspicion that I had given her pain was intolerable 
to me. I rang my bell, to make inquiries. 

The bell was answered, not as usual by the silent servant 
Peter, but by a woman of middle age, very quietly and neatly 
dressed, whom I had once or twice met on the way to and from 
my room, and of whose exact position in the house I was still 
ignorant. 

" Do you wish to see Peter ? " she asked. 



200 7 he Two Destinies. 

11 No. I wish to know where Miss Dunross is." 

" Miss Dunross is in her room. She has sent me to you with 
this letter." 

I took the letter, feeling some surprise and uneasiness. It 
was the first time Miss Dunross had communicated with me in 
that formal way. I tried to gain further information by 
questioning her messenger. 

" Are you Miss Dunross's maid 1 " I asked. 

" I have served Miss Dunross for many years," was the 
answer, spoken very ungraciously. 

" Do you think she would receive me, if I sent you with a 
message to her ? J> 

" I can't say, sir. The letter may tell you. You will do 
well to read the letter." 

We looked at each other. The woman's preconceived im- 
pression of me was evidently an unfavourable one. Had I in- 
deed pained or offended Miss Dunross 1 And had the servant 
perhaps the faithful servant who loved her discovered and 
resented it 1 The woman frowned as she looked at me. It 
would be a mere waste of words to persist in questioning her. 
I let her go. 

Jjeft by myself again, I read the letter. It began, without 
any form of address, in these lines : 

" I write, instead of speaking to you, because my self-control 
has already been severely tried, and I am not strong enough to 
bear more. For my father's sake not for my own I must 
take all the care I can of the little health that I have left. 

" Putting together what you have told me of the visionary 
creature whom you saw in the summer-house in Scotland, 
and what you said when you questioned me in your room a 



The Kiss, 201 



little while since, I cannot fail to infer that the same Vision 
has shown itself to you, for the second time. The fear that I 
felt, the strange things that I saw (or thought I saw), may 
have been imperfect reflections in my mind of what was passing 
in yours. I do not stop to inquire whether we are both the 
victims of a delusion, or whether we are the chosen recipients 
of a supernatural communication. The result, in either case, is 
enough for me. You are once more under the influence of Mrs. 
Van Brandt. I will not trust myself to tell you of the anxieties 
and forebodings by which I am oppressed : I will only acknow- 
ledge that my one hope for you is in your speedy re-union with 
the worthier object of your constancy and devotion. I still 
believe, and I am consoled in believing, that you and your first 
love will meet again. 

" Having written so far, I leave the subject not to return 
to it, except in my own thoughts. 

" The necessary preparations for your departure to-morrow 
are all made. Nothing remains but to wish you a safe and 
pleasant journey home. Do not, I entreat you, think me in- 
sensible of what I owe to you, if I say my farewell words here. 

" The little services which you have allowed me to render 
you have brightened the closing days of my life. You have left 
me a treasury of happy memories which I shall hoard, when 
you are gone, with miserly care. Are you willing to add new 
claims to my grateful remembrance ? I ask it of you as a last 
favour do not attempt to see me again ! Do not expect me 
to take a personal leave of you ! The saddest of all words is 
' Goodbye : ' I have fortitude enough to write it, and no more. 
God preserve and prosper you farewell ! 

" One more request. I beg that you will not forget what 



202 The Two Destinies. 

you promised me, when I told you my foolish fancy about the 
green flag. Wherever you go, let Mary's keepsake go with 
you. No written answer is necessary I would rather not 
receive it. Look up, when you leave the house to-morrow, at 
the centre window over the doorway that will be answer 
enough." 

To say that these melancholy lines brought the tears into 
my eyes, is only to acknowledge that I had sympathies which 
could be touched. When I had in some degree recovered my 
composure, the impulse which urged me to write to Miss Dun- 
ross was too strong to be resisted. I did not trouble her with 
a long letter I only entreated her to reconsider her decision 
with all the art of persuasion which I could summon to help 
me. The answer was brought back by the servant who waited 
on Miss Dunross, in three resolute words : 

" It cannot be." This time, the woman spoke out before she 
left me. 

" If you have any regard for my mistress," she said sternly, 
" don't make her write to you again." She looked at me 
with a last lowering frown, and left the room. 

It is needless to say that the faithful servant's words only 
increased my anxiety to see Miss Dunross once more before 
we parted perhaps for ever. My one last hope of success in 
attaining this object lay in approaching her indirectly through 
the intercession of her father. 

I sent Peter to inquire if I might be permitted to pay my 
respects to his master that evening. My messenger returned 
with an answer which was a new disappointment to me. Mr. 
Dunross begged that I would excuse him if he deferred the 
proposed interview until the next morning. The next morn- 



The Kiss. 203 



ing was the morning of my departure. Did the message 
mean that he had no wish to see me again until the time had 
come to take leave of him ? I inquired of Peter whether his 
master was particularly occupied that evening. He was una- 
ble to tell me. " The Master of Books " was not in his study 
as usual. When he sent his message to me, he was sitting by 
the sofa in his daughter's room. 

Having answered in those terms, the man left me by my- 
self until the next morning. I do not wish my bitterest 
enemy a sadder time in his life than the time I passed, on 
the last night of my residence under Mr. Dunross's roof. 

After walking to and fro in the room until I was weary, I 
thought of trying to divert my mind from the sad thoughts 
that oppressed it, by reading. The one candle which I had 
lit failed to sufficiently illuminate the room. Advancing to 
the mantel-piece to light the second candle which stood there, 
I noticed the unfinished letter to my mother lying where I had 
placed it, when Miss Dunross's servant first presented herself 
before me. Having lit the second candle, I took up the letter 
to put it away among my other papers. Doing this (while my 
thoughts were still dwelling on Miss Dunross), I mechanically 
looked at the letter again, and instantly discovered a change 
in it. 

The written characters traced by the hand of the apparition 
had vanished ! Below the last lines written by Miss Dunross, 
nothing met my eye now but the blank white paper ! 

My first impulse was to look at my watch. 

When the ghostly Presence had written in my sketch-book, 
the characters had disappeared after an interval of three hours. 



204 The Two Destinies. 

On this occasion, as nearly as I could calculate, the writing 
had vanished in one hour only. 

Reverting to the conversation which I held with Mrs. Van 
Brandt when we met at Saint Anthony's Well, and to the dis- 
coveries which followed at a later period of my life, I can only 
repeat that she had again been the subject of a trance or 
dream, when the apparition of her showed itself to me for the 
second time. As before, she had freely trusted me and freely 
appealed to me to help her, in the dreaming state, when her 
spirit was free to recognise my spirit. When she had come 
to herself, after an interval of an hour, she had again felt 
ashamed of the familiar manner in which she had communi- 
cated with me in the trance ; had again unconsciously counter- 
acted by her waking-will the influence of her sleeping-will ; 
and had thus caused the writing once more to disappear, in 
an hour from the moment when the pen had traced (or seemed 
to trace) it. 

This is still the one explanation that I can offer. At the 
time when the incident happened, I was far from being fully 
admitted to the confidence of Mrs. Van Brandt ; and I was 
necessarily incapable of arriving at any solution of the mystery, 
right or wrong. I could only put away the letter, doubting 
vaguely whether my own senses had not deceived me. After 
the distressing thoughts which Miss Dunross's letter had roused 
in my mind, I was in no humour to employ my ingenuity jn 
finding a clue to the mystery of the vanished writing. My 
nerves were irritated ; I felt a sense of angry discontent with 
myself and with others. " Go where I may" (I thought im- 
patiently), l( the disturbing influence of women seems to be 
he only influence that I am fated to feel." As I still pace4 



The Kiss. 205 



backwards and forwards in my room it was useless to think 
now of fixing my attention on a book I fancied I under- 
stood the motives which made men, as young as I was, retire 
to end their lives in a monastery. I drew aside the window 
curtains, and looked out. The only prospect that met my 
view was the black gulph of darkness in which the lake lay 
hidden. I could see nothing ; I could do nothing ; I could 
think of nothing. The one alternative before me was the al- 
ternative of trying to sleep. My medical knowledge told me 
plainly that natural sleep was, in my nervous condition, one of 
the unattainable luxuries of life for that night. The medi- 
cine-chest which Mr. Dunross had placed at my disposal re- 
mained in the room. I mixed for myself a strong sleeping 
draught, and sullenly took refuge from my troubles in bed. 

It is a peculiarity of most of the soporific drugs that they 
not only act in a totally different manner on different constitu- 
tions, but that they are not even to be depended on to act 
always in the same manner on the same person. I had taken 
care to extinguish the candles before I got into my bed. Under 
ordinary circumstances, after I had laid quietly in the darkness 
for half-an-hour, the draught that I had taken would have sent 
me to sleep. In the present state of my nerves the draught 
stupefied me, and did no more. 

Hour after hour I lay perfectly still, with my eyes closed, in 
the semi-sleeping, semi-wakeful state which is so curiously cha- 
racteristic of the ordinary repose of a dog. As the night wore 
on, such a sense of heaviness oppressed my eyelids that it was 
literally impossible for me to open them such a masterful 
languor possessed all my muscles that I could no more move 
on my pillow than if I had been a corpse. And yet in this 



206 The Two Destinies. 

somnolent condition my mind was able to pursue lazy trains 
of pleasant thought. My sense of hearing was so acute that 
it caught the faintest "sounds made by the passage of the night- 
breeze through the rushes of the lake. Inside my bedchamber, 
I was even more keenly sensible of those weird night-noises in 
the heavy furniture of a room, of those sudden settlements of 
extinct coals in the grate, so familiar to bad sleepers, so star- 
tling to overwrought nerves ! It is not a scientifically correct 
statement, but it exactly describes my condition that night, to 
say that one-half of me was asleep and the other half awake. 

How many hours of the night had passed when my irritable 
sense of hearing became aware of a new sound in the room, I 
cannot tell. I can only relate that I found myself on a sudden 
listening intently, with fast-closed eyes. The sound that dis- 
turbed me was the faintest sound imaginable, as of something 
soft and light travelling slowly over the surface of the carpet, 
and brushing it just loud enough to be heard. 

Little by little, the sound came nearer and nearer to my bed 
and then suddenly stopped just as I fancied it was close by 
me. 

I still lay immovable, with closed eyes ; drowsily waiting for 
the next sound that might reach my ears ; drowsily content 
with the silence, if the silence continued. My thoughts (if 
thoughts they could be called) were drifting back again into 
their former course, when I became suddenly conscious of soft 
breathing just above me. The next moment, I felt a touch on 
my forehead light, soft, tremulous, like the touch of lips that 
had kissed me. There was a momentary pause. Then a low 
sigh trembled through the silence. Then I heard again the 
still small sound of something brushing its way over the carpet ; 



The Kiss. 207 



travelling this time from my bed, and moving so rapidly that in 
a moment more it was lost in the silence of the night. 

Still stupefied by the drug that I had taken, I could lazily 
wonder what had happened, and I could do no more. Had 
living lips really touched me 1 Was the sound that I had heard 
really the sound of a sigh 1 Or was it all delusion, beginning 
and ending in a dream 1 ? The time passed without my deciding, 
or caring to decide, those questions. Minute by minute, the 
composing influence of the draught began at last to strengthen 
its hold on my brain. A cloud seemed to pass softly over my 
last waking impressions. One after another, the ties broke 
gently that held me to conscious life. I drifted peacefully into 
perfect sleep. 

Shortly after sunrise I awoke. When I regained the use of 
my memory, my first clear recollection was the recollection of 
the soft breathing which I had felt above me then of the touch 
on my forehead, and of the sigh which I had heard after it. 
Was it possible that some one had entered my room in the 
night 1 It was quite possible. I had not locked the door I 
had never been in the habit of locking the door during my 
residence under Mr. Dunross's roof. 

After thinking it over a little, I rose to examine my room. 

Nothing in the shape of a discovery rewarded me until I 
reached the door. Though I had not locked it overnight, I 
had certainly satisfied myself that it was closed before I went 
to bed. It was now ajar. Had it opened again, through being 
imperfectly shut ? or had a person, after entering and leaving 
my room, forgotten to close it 1 

Accidentally looking downwards while I was weighing these 
probabilities, I noticed a small black object on the carpet, lying 



208 The Two Destinies. 

just under the key, on the inner side of the door. I picked the 
thing up, and found that it was a torn morsel of black lace. 

The instant I saw the fragment, I was reminded of the long 
black veil, hanging below her waist, which it was the habit of 
Miss Dunross to wear. Was it her dress then that I had heard 
softly travelling over the carpet ; her kiss that had touched my 
forehead ; her sigh that had trembled through the silence 1 Had 
the ill-fated and noble creature taken her last leave of me in 
the dead of night ; trusting the preservation of her secret to 
the deceitful appearances which persuaded her that I was 
asleep 1 I looked again at the fragment of black lace. Her 
long veil might easily have been caught, and torn, by the pro- 
jecting key, as she passed rapidly through the door on her way 
out of my room. Sadly and reverently I laid the morsel of 
lace among the treasured memorials which I had brought 
with me from home. To the end of her life, I vowed it, she 
should be left undisturbed in the belief that her secret was safe 
in her own breast ! Ardently as I still longed to take her hand 
at parting, I now resolved to make no further effort to see her. 
I might not be master of my own emotions ; something in my 
face or in my manner might betray me to her quick and deli- 
cate perception. Knowing what I now knew, the last sacrifice 
I could make to her would be to obey her wishes. I made the 
sacrifice. 

In an hour more Peter informed me that the ponies were at 
the door, and that the master was waiting for me in the outer 
hall. 

I noticed that Mr. Dunross gave me his hand without look- 
ing at me. His faded blue eyes, during the few minutes while 
we were together, were not once raised from the ground. 



Ttie Kiss. 209 



" God speed you on your journey, sir, and guide you safely 
home," he said. " I beg you to forgive me if I fail to accom- 
pany you on the first few miles of your journey. There are 
reasons which oblige me to remain with my daughter in the 
house." 

He was scrupulously, almost painfully, courteous but there 
was something in his manner which, for the first time in my 
experience, seemed designedly to keep me at a distance from 
him. Knowing the intimate sympathy, the perfect confidence, 
which existed between the father and daughter, a doubt crossed 
my mind whether the secret of the past night was entirely a 
secret to Mr. Dunross. His next words set that doubt at rest, 
and showed me the truth. 

In thanking him for his good wishes, I attempted also to 
express to him (and through him to Miss Dunross) my sincere 
sense of gratitude for the kindness which I had received under 
his roof. He stopped me, politely and resolutely ; speaking 
with that quaintly precise choice of language which I had re- 
marked as characteristic of him at our first interview. 

" It is in your power, sir," he said, " to return any obliga- 
tion which you may think you have incurred on leaving my 
house. If you will be pleased to consider your residence here 
as an unimportant episode in your life, which ends absolutely 
ends with your departure, you will more than repay any 
kindness that you may have received as my guest. In saying 
this, I speak under a sense of duty which does entire justice to 
you, as a gentleman k and a man of honour. In return I can 
only trust to you not to misjudge my motives if I abstain from 
explaining myself any farther." 

A faint colour flushed his pale cheeks. He waited with a 



210 The Two Destinies. 

certain proud resignation for my reply. I respected her secret, 
respected it more resolutely than ever, before her father. 

" After all that I owe to you, sir/' I answered, " your wishes 
are my commands." Saying that, and saying no more, I bowed 
to him with marked respect, and left the house. 

Mounting my pony at the door, I looked up ot the centre 
window, as she had bidden me. It was open ; but dark cur- 
tains, jealously closed, kept out the light from the room within. 
At the sound of the pony's hoofs on the rough island road, as 
the animal moved, the curtains were parted for a few inches 
only. Through the gap in the dark draperies a white hand 
appeared ; waved tremulously a last farewell ; and vanished 
from my view. The curtains closed again on her dark and 
solitary life. The dreary wind sounded its long low dirge over 
the rippling waters of the lake. The ponies took their places 
in the ferry-boat which was kept for the passage of animals to 
and from the island. With slow, regular strokes the men 
rowed us to the mainland, and took their leave. I looked back 
at the distant house. I thought of her in the dark room wait- 
ing patiently for death. Burning tears blinded me. The 
guide took my bridle .in his hand: "You're not well, sir," he 
said ; " I will lead the pony." 

When I looked again at the landscape round me, we had 
descended in the interval from the higher ground to the 
lower. The house and lake had disappeared, to be seen no 
more. 




CHAPTER XXIV. 

IN THE SHADOW OF SAINT PAUL'S. 

N ten days I was at home again and my mother's 
arms were around me. 

I had left her for my sea voyage very unwillingly, 
seeing .that she was in delicate health; on my return, 
I was grieved to observe a change for the worse, 
for which her letters had not prepared me. Con- 
sulting our medical friend, Mr. MacGlue, I found that he too 
had noticed my mother's failing health, but that he attributed 
it to an easily removable cause to the climate of Scotland. 
My mother's childhood and early life had been passed on the 
southern shores of England. The change to the raw, keen air 
of the north had been a trying change to a person at her age. 
In Mr. MacGlue's opinion, the wise course to take would be to 
return to the south before the autumn was farther advanced, 
and to make our arrangemements for passing the coming 
winter at Penzance or Torquay. 

Resolved as I was to keep the mysterious appointment 
which summoned me to London at the month's end, Mr. 
MacGlue's suggestion met with no opposition on my part. It 
had, to my mind, the great merit of obviating the necessity of 
a second separation from my mother assuming that she ap- 



212 The Two Destinies. 



proved of. the doctor's advice. I put the question to her the 
same day. To my infinite relief she was not only ready, but 
eager, to take the journey to the south. The season had been 
unusually wet, even for Scotland ; and my mother reluctantly 
confessed that she " did feel a certain longing " for the mild 
air and genial sunshine of the Devonshire coast. 

We arranged to travel in our own comfortable carriage by 
post resting, of course, at inns on the road at night. In the 
days before railways it was no easy matter for an invalid to 
travel from Perthshire to London even with a light carriage 
and four horses. Calculating our rate of progress from the date 
of our departure, I found that we had just time, and no more, 
to reach London on the last day of the month. -. 

I shall say nothing of the secret anxieties which weighed on 
my mind, under these circumstances. Happily for me, on 
every account, my mother's strength held out. The easy, and 
(as we then thought) the rapid rate of travelling, had its invi- 
gorating effect on her nerves. She slept better when we rested 
for the night than she had slept at home. After twice being 
delayed on the road, we arrived in London at three o'clock on 
the afternoon of the last day of the month. Had I reached my 
destination in time 1 

As I interpreted the writing of the apparition, I had still 
some hours at my disposal. The phrase, " at the month's end," 
meant, as I understood it, at the last hour of the last day in the 
month. If I took up my position " under the shadow of St. 
Paul's" (say), at ten that night, I should arrive at the place of 
meeting with two hours to spare, before the last stroke of the 
clock marked the beginning of the new month. 

At half-past nine I left my mother to rest after her long 



In the Shadow of St. Paul's. 213 

journey, and privately quitted the house. Before ten I was at 
my post. The night was fine and clear ; and the huge shadow 
of the cathedral marked distinctly the limits within which I had 
been bidden to wait, on the watch for events. 

The great clock of St. Paul's struck ten and nothing hap- 
pened. 

The next hour passed very slowly. I walked up and down ; at 
one time absorbed in my own thoughts; at another, engaged in 
watching the gradual diminution in the number of foot passen- 
gers who passed me as the night advanced. The city (as it is 
called) is the most populous part of London in the daytime ; 
but at night, when it ceases to be the centre of commerce, its 
busy population melts away, and the empty streets assume the 
appearance of a remote and deserted quarter of the metropolis. 
As the half-hour after ten struck then the quarter to eleven 
then the hour the pavement steadily became more and 
more deserted. I could count the foot passengers now by 
twos and threes ; and I could see the places of public refresh- 
ment within my view beginning already to close for the night. 

I looked at the clock : it pointed to ten minutes past eleven. 
At that hour, could I hope to meet Mrs. Van Brandt alone, in 
the public street 1 

The more I thought of it, the less likely such an event seemed 
to be. The more reasonable probability was that I might meet 
her once more, accompanied by some friend perhaps under 
the escort of Van Brandt himself. I wondered whether I should 
preserve my self-control, in the presence of that man, for the 
second time. 

While my thoughts were still pursuing this direction, my 



214 The Two Destinies. 

attention was recalled to passing events by a sad little voice, 
putting a strange little question, close at my side. 

" If you please, sir, do you know where I can find a chemist's 
shop open at this time of night 1 " 

I looked round, and discovered a poorly-clad little boy, with 
a basket over his arm, and a morsel of paper in his hand. 

" The chemists' shops are all shut," I said. " If you want any 
medicine, you must ring the night bell." 

" I dursn't do it, sir," replied the small stranger. " I am such 
a little boy, I'm afraid of their beating me if I ring them up 
out of their beds, without somebody to speak for me." 

The little creature looked at me under the street lamp with 
such a forlorn experience of being beaten for trifling offences 
in his face, that it was impossible to resist the impulse to help 
him. 

" Is it a serious case of illness 1 " I asked. 

" I don't know, sir." 

" Have you got a doctor's prescription 1 " 

He held out his morsel of paper. 

" I have got this," he said. 

I took the paper from him, and looked at it. 

It was an ordinary prescription for a tonic mixture. I looked 
first at the doctor's signature ; it was the name of a perfectly 
obscure person in the profession. Below it was written the 
name of the patient for whom the medicine had been pi 
scribed. I started as I read it. The name was " Mrs. Brand." 

The idea instantly struck me that this (so far as sounds 
went, at any rate) was the English equivalent of Van Brandt. 

" Do you know the lady who sent you for the medicine 1 " I 
asked. 



In the Shadow of St. Paul's. 215 

" Oh, yes, sir ! She lodges with mother and she owes for 
rent. I have done everything she told me, except getting the 
physic. I've pawned her ring, and I've bought the bread and 
butter and eggs, and I've taken care of the change. Mother 
looks to the change for her rent. It isn't my fault, sir, that I've 
lost myself. I am but ten years old and all the chemists' shops 
are shut up ! " 

Here my little friend's sense of his unmerited misfortunes 
overpowered him, and he began to cry. 

" Don't cry, my man ! " I said : " I'll help you. Tell me 
something more about the lady first. Is she alone 1 " 

" She's got her little girl with her, sir." 

My heart quickened its beat. The boy's answer reminded 
me of that other little girl whom my mother had once seen. 

" Is the lady's husband with her 1 " I asked next. 

" No, sir not now. He was with her ; but he went away 
and he hasn't come back yet." 

I put a last conclusive question. 

" Is her husband an Englishmman 1 " I inquired. 

" Mother says he's a foreigner/' the boy answered. 

I turned away to hide my agitation. Even the child might 
have noticed it. 

Passing under the name of " Mrs. Brand " poor, so poor 
that she was obliged to pawn her ring left, by a man who was 
a foreigner, alone with her little girl was I on the trace of her 
at that moment ? Was this lost child destined to be the in- 
nocent means of leading me back to the woman I loved, in her 
direst need of sympathy and help ? The more I thought of it, 
the more strongly the idea of returning with the boy to the 
house in which his mother's lodger lived, fastened itself on my 



216 The Two Destinies. 

mind. The clock struck the quarter past eleven. If my an- 
ticipations ended in misleading me, I had still three-quarters of 
an hour to spare before the month reached its end. 

" Where do you live ? " I asked. 

The boy mentioned a street the name of which I then heard 
for the first time. All he could say, when I asked for further 
particulars, was that he lived close by the river in which 
direction he was too confused and too frightened to be able to 
tell me. 

While we were still trying to understand each other, a cab 
passed slowly at some little distance. I hailed the man, and 
mentioned the name of the street to him. He knew it perfectly 
well. The street was rather more than a mile away from us, 
in an easterly direction. He undertook to drive me there, and 
to bring me back again to St. Paul's (if necessary), in less than 
twenty minutes. I opened the door of the cab, and told my 
little friend to get in. The boy hesitated. 

" Are we going to the chemist's, if you please, sir ? " he 



" No. You are going home first, with me. j; 

The boy began to cry again. 

" Mother will beat me, sir, if I go back without the medicine/' 

" I will take care that your mother doesn't beat you. I am a 
doctor myself ; and I want to see the lady before we get the 
medicine for her." 

The announcement of my profession appeared to inspire the 
boy with a certain confidence. But he still showed no disposi- 
tion to accompany me to his mother's house. 

" Do you mean to charge the lady anything 1 " he asked. 



In the Shadow of St. Paul's. 217 

''The money Fve got on the ring isn't much. Mother won't 
like having it taken out of her rent." 

" I won't charge the lady a farthing," I answered. 

The boy instantly got into the cab. " All right," he said, 
' as long as mother gets her money." 

Alas for the poor ! The child's education in the sordid 
anxieties of life was completed already at ten years old ! 

We drove away. 





CHAPTER XXV. 

I KEEP MY APPOINTMENT. 

HE poverty-stricken aspect of the street, when we 
entered it ; the dirty and dilapidated condition of 
the house, when we drew up at the door, would have 
warned most men in my position to prepare them- 
selves for a distressing discovery when they were 
admitted to the interior of the dwelling. The first 
impression which the place produced on my mind suggested, on 
the contrary, that the boy's answers to my questions had led me, 
astray. It was simply impossible to associate Mrs. Van Brandt 
(as / remembered her) with the spectacle of such squalid 
poverty as I now beheld. I rang the door-bell, feeling per- 
suaded beforehand that my inquiries would lead to no useful 
result. 

As I lifted my hand to the bell, my little companion's dread 
of a beating revived in full force. He hid himself behind me ; 
and when I asked what he was about, he answered confiden- 
tially, " Please stand between us, sir, when mother opens the 
door ! " 

A tall and truculent woman answered the bell. No intro- 
duction was necessary. Holding a cane in her hand, she stood 
self-proclaimed as my small friend's mother. 



/ Keep My Appointment. 219 

" I thought it was that vagabond of a boy of mine," she ex- 
plained, as an apology for the exhibition of the cane. " He 
has been gone on an errand more than two hours. What did 
you please to want, sir 1 " 

I interceded for the unfortunate boy before I entered on my 
own business. 

" I must beg you to forgive your son this time," I said. " I 
found him lost in the streets, and have brought him home." 

The woman's astonishment when she heard what I had done, 
and discovered her son behind me, literally struck her dumb. 
The language of the eye, superseding on this occasion the lan- 
guage of the tongue, plainly revealed the impression that I had 
produced on her : " You bring my lost brat home in a cab 1 
Mr. Stranger, you are mad." 

" I hear that you have a lady named Brand lodging in the 
house, " I went on. " I dare say I am mistaken in supposing 
her to be a lady of the same name whom I know. But I should 
like to make sure whether I am right or wrong. Is it too late 
to disturb your lodger to-night V 

The woman recovered the use of her tongue. 

" My lodger is up and waiting for that little fool, who doesn't 
know his way about London yet ! " She emphasized those 
words by shaking her brawny fist at her son, who instantly 
returned to his place of refuge behind the tail of my coat. 
" Have you got the money 1 " inquired this terrible person, 
shouting at her hidden offspring over my shoulder ; " or have 
you lost that as well as your own stupid little self 1 " 

The boy showed himself again, and put the money into his 
mother's knotty hand. She counted it, with eyes which satisfied 



220 The Two Destinies. 

themselves fiercely that each coin was of genuine silver, and 
then became partially pacified. 

" Go along up-stairs," she growled, addressing her son, " and 
don't keep the lady waiting any longer. They're half starved, 
she and her child," the woman proceeded, turning to me. "The 
food my boy has got for them in his basket will be the first 
food the mother has tasted to-day. She's pawned everything 
by this time ; and what she's to do unless you help her is more 
than I can say. The doctor does what he can ; but he told me 
to-day, if she wasn't better nourished it was no use sending for 
him. Follow the boy, and see for yourself if it's the lady 
you know." 

I listened to the woman, still feeling persuaded that I had 
acted under a delusion in going to her house. How was it 
possible to associate the charming object of my heart's worship 
with the miserable story of destitution which I had just 
heard 1 I stopped the boy on the first landing, and told him 
to announce me simply as a doctor, who had been informed of 
Mrs. Brand's illness, and who had called to see her. 

We ascended a second flight of stairs, and a third. Arrived 
now at the top of the house, the boy knocked at the door that 
was nearest to us on the landing. No audible voice replied. 
He opened the door without ceremony, and went in. I waited 
outside to hear what was said. The door was left ajar. If the 
voice of " Mrs. Brand " was (as I believed it would prove to 
be) the voice of a stranger, I resolved to offer her delicately 
such help as lay within my power, and return forthwith to 
my post " under the shadow of St. Paul's." 

The first voice that spoke to the boy was the voice of a 
child, 



/ Keep My Appointment. 221 

" I'm so hungry, Jemmy I'm so hungry ! " 

"All right, Missy I've got you something to eat." 

"Be quick, Jemmy ! Be quick ! " 

There was a momentary pause, and then I heard the boy's 
voice once more. 

"There's a slice of bread-and-butter, Missy. You must 
wait for your egg till I can boil it. Don't you eat too fast, or 
you'll choke yourself. What's the matter with your mamma ? 
Are you asleep, ma'am 1 " 

I could barely hear the answering voice, it was so faint; 
and it uttered but one word : " No ! " 

The boy spoke again. 

" Cheer up, Missus. There's a doctor outside waiting to see 
you." 

This time there was no audible reply. The boy showed him- 
self to me at the door. " Please to come in, sir. / can't make 
anything of her." 

It would have been misplaced delicacy to have hesitated any 
longer to enter the room. I went in. 

There, at the opposite end of a miserably-furnished bed-cham- 
ber, lying back feebly in a tattered old arm-chair, was one more 
among the thousands of forlorn creatures starving that night 
in the great city. A white handkerchief was laid over her 
face as if to screen it from the flame of the fire hard by. She 
lifted the handkerchief, startled by the sound of my footsteps 
as I entered the room. I looked at her, and saw in the white, 
wan, deathlike face the face of the woman I loved ! 

For a moment, the horror of the discovery turned me faint 
and giddy. In another instant, I was kneeling by her chair. 
My arm was round her her head lay on my shoulder. She 



222 The Two Destinies. 

was past speaking, past crying out : she trembled silently, and 
that was all. I said nothing. No words passed my lips, no 
tears came to my relief. I held her to me ; and she let me 
hold her. The child devouring its bread and butter at a little 
round table, stared at us. The boy, on his knees before the 
grate, mending the fire, stared at us. And the slow minutes 
lagged on and the buzzing of a fly in a corner was the only 
sound in the room. 

The instincts of the profession to which I had been trained, 
rather than any active sense of the horror of the situation in 
which I was placed, roused me at last. She was starving ! I 
saw it in the deadly colour of her skin ; I felt it in the faint 
quick flutter of her pulse. I called the boy to me, and sent 
him to the nearest public -house for wine and biscuits. " Be 
quick about it/' I said ; " and you shall have more money for 
yourself than ever you had in your life ! " The boy looked at 
me spat on the coins in his hand said, " That's for luck ! "- 
and ran out of the room as never boy ran yet. 

I turned to speak my first words of comfort to the mother. 
The cry of the child stopped me : 

" I'm so hungry ! I'm so hungry ! " 

I set more food before the famished child, and kissed her. 
She looked up at me with wondering eyes. 

" Are you a new papa ? " the little creature asked. " My 
other papa never kisses me." 

I looked at the mother. Her eyes were closed ; the tears 
flowed slowly over her worn white cheeks. I took her frail 
hand in mine. " Happier days are coming," I said ; " you are 
my care now." There was no answer. She still trembled 
silently and that was all. 



/ Keep My Appointment. 223 



In less than five minutes the boy returned, and earned his 
promised reward. He sat on the floor by the fire counting his 
treasure, the one happy creature in the room. I soaked some 
crumbled morsels of biscuit in the wine and, little by little, 
I revived her failing strength by nourishment administered at 
intervals in that cautious form. After awhile she raised her 
head, and looked at me, with wondering eyes that were pitiably 
like the eyes of her child. A faint delicate flush began to 
show itself in her face. She spoke to me, for the first time, 
in whispering tones that I could just hear as I sat close at her 
side. 

" How did you find me ? Who showed you the way to this 
place ? " 

She paused ; painfully recalling the memory of something 
that was slow to come back. Her colour deepened ; she found 
the lost remembrance, and looked at me with a timid curiosity. 
" What brought you here ? " she asked. " Was it my dream 1 " 

" Wait, dearest, till you are stronger, and I will tell you 
all." 

I lifted her gently, and laid her on her wretched bed. The 
child followed us, and, climbing to the bedstead with my 
help, nestled at her mother's side. I sent the boy away to tell 
the mistress of the house that I should remain with my patient, 
watching her progress towards recovery, through the night. 
He went out, jingling his money joyfully in his pocket. We 
three were left together. 

As the long hours followed each other, she fell at intervals 
into a broken sleep ; waking with a start, and looking at me 
wildly as if I had been a stranger at her bedside. Towards 
morning, the nourishment which I still carefully administered 



224 The Two Destinies. 

wrought its healthful change in her pulse, and composed her 
to quieter slumbers. When the sun rose she was sleeping as 
peacefully as the child at her side. I was able to leave her, 
until my return later in the day, under the care of the woman 
of the house. The magic of money transformed this terma. 
gant and terrible person into a docile and attentive nurse so 
eager to follow my instructions exactly that she begged me to 
commit them to writing before I went away. For a moment, 
I still lingered alone at the bedside of the sleeping woman ; 
and satisfied myself for the hundredth time that her life was 
safe, before I left her. It was the sweetest of all rewards to 
feel sure of this to touch her cool forehead lightly with my 
lips to look, and look again, at the poor worn face, always 
dear, always beautiful, to my eyes, change as it might. I closed 
the door softly, and went out in the bright morning, a happy 
man again. (^So close together rise the springs of joy and sor- 
row in human life !/ So near in our heart, as in our heaven, is 
the brightest sunshine to the blackest cloud !] 





CHAPTER XXVI. 

CONVERSATION WITH MY MOTHER. 

REACHED my own house in time to snatch two or 
three hours of repose, before I paid my customary 
morning visit to my mother in her own room. I ob- 
served in her reception of me on this occasion, cer- 
tain peculiarities of look and manner which were far 
from being familiar in my experience of her. 
When our eyes first met, she regarded me with a wistful 
questioning look, as if she was troubled by some doubt which 
she shrank from expressing in words. And when I inquired 
after her health as usual, she surprised me by answering as 
impatiently as if she resented my having mentioned the sub- 
ject. For a moment, I was inclined to think these changes 
signified that she had discovered my absence from home dur- 
ing the night, and that she had some suspicion of the true 
cause of it. But she never alluded, even in the most distant 
manner, to Mrs. Van Brandt ; and not a word dropped from 
her lips which implied, directly or indirectly, that I had pained 
or disappointed her. I could only conclude that she had some 
thing important to say, in relation to herself or to me, and 
that for reasons of her own she unwillingly abstained from 
giving expression to it at that time, 
p 



226 The Two Destinies. 

Reverting to our ordinary topics of conversation, we touch- 
ed on the subject (always interesting to my mother) of my 
visit to Shetland. Speaking of this, we naturally spoke also 
of Miss Dunross. Here again, when 1 least expected it, there 
was another surprise in store for me. 

" You were talking the other day," said my mother, " of 
the green flag which poor Dermody's daughter worked for you, 
when you were both children. Have you really kept it all 
this time 1 " 

"Yes." 

" Where have you left it ? In Scotland 1 " 

" I have brought it with me to London." 

" Why 1 ; ' 

" I promised Miss Dunross to take the green flag with me, 
wherever I might go. " 

My mother smiled. 

"Is it possible, George, that you think about this as the 
young lady in Shetland thinks 1 After all the years that have 
passed, do you believe in the green flag being the means of 
bringing Mary Dermody and yourself together again ? " 

11 Certainly not ! I am only humouring one of the fancies 
of poor Miss Dunross. Could f refuse to grant her trifling re- 
quest, after all I owed to her kindness 1 " 

The smile left my mother's face. She looked at me atten- 
tively. 

" Miss Dunross seems to have produced a very favourable 
impression on you," she said. 

" I own it. I feel deeply interested in her." 

" If she had not been an incurable invalid, George, I too 



Conversation With My Mother. 227 

might have become interested in Miss Dunross perhaps in the 
character of my daughter-in-law 1 " 

11 It is useless, mother, to speculate on what might have hap- 
pened. The sad reality is enough." 

My mother paused a little before she put her next question 
to me. 

" Did Miss Dunross always keep her veil drawn, in your 
presence, when there happened to be light in the room ? " 
" Always." 

" She never even let you catch a momentary glance at her 
face 1 " 
" Never. " 

" And the only reason she gave you was that the light caused 
her a painful sensation if it fell on her uncovered skin ? " 

" You say that, mother, as if you doubt whether Miss Dun- 
ross told me the truth." 

" No, George. I only doubt whether she told you all the 
truth." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Don't be offended, my dear. I believe Miss Dunross has 
some more serious reason for keeping her face hidden than the 
reason that she gave you." 

I was silent. The suspicion which those words implied had 
never occurred to my mind. I had read in medical books of 
cases of morbid nervous sensitiveness exactly similar to the 
case of Miss Dunross, as described by herself and that had 
been enough for me. Now that my mother's idea had found 
its way from her mind to mine, the impression produced on 
me was painful in the last degree. Horrible imaginings of de- 
formity possessed my brain, and profaned all that was purest 



228 The Two Destinies. 

and dearest in my recollections of Miss Dunross. It was useless 
to change the subject the evil influence that was on me was too 
potent to be charmed away by talk. Making the best excuse 
that I could think of for leaving my mother's room, I hurried 
away to seek a refuge from myself, where alone I could hope 
to find it, in the presence of Mrs. Van Brandt. 





CHAPTER XXVII. 

CONVERSATION WITH MRS. VAN BRANDT. 

'HE landlady was taking the air at her own door 
when I reached the house. Her reply to my inqui- 
ries justified my most hopeful anticipations. The 
poor lodger looked already " like another woman ; " 
and the child was at that moment posted on the 
stairs, watching for the return of her " new papa.'' 
" There's one thing I should wish to say to yon, sir, before 
you go up-stairs," the woman went on. " Don't trust the lady 
with more money, at any time, than the money that is wanted 
for the day's housekeeping. If she has any to spare, it's as 
likely as not to be wasted on her good-for-nothing husband." 

Absorbed in the higher and dearer interests that filled my 
mind, I had thus far forgotten the very existence of Mr. Van 
Brandt. 

" Where is he?" I asked. 

" Where he ought to be," was the answer. " In prison for 
debt." 

In those days, a man imprisoned for debt was not infre- 
quently a man imprisoned for life. There was little fear of my 
visit being shortened by the appearance on the scene of Mr. 
Van Brandt. 



230 The Two Destinies. 

Ascending the stairs, I found the child waiting for me on the 
upper landing, with a ragged doll in her arms. I had bought 
a cake for her on my way to the house. She forthwith turned 
over the doll to my care, and, trotting before me into the room 
with her cake in her arms, announced my arrival in these 
words : 

" Mamma, I like this papa better than the other. You like 
him better too." 

The mother's wasted face reddened for a moment, then 
turned pale again, as she held out her hand to me. I looked 
at her anxiously, and discerned the welcome signs of recovery 
clearly revealed. Her grand grey eyes rested on me again 
with a glimmer of their old light. The hand that had lain so 
cold in mine on the past night, had life and warmth in it now. 

" Should I have died before the morning, if you had not 
come here T' she asked softly. " Have you saved my life for 
the second time ? I can well believe it ! " 

Before I was aware of her, she bent her head over my hand, 
and touched it tenderly with her lips. " I am not an ungrate- 
ful woman," she murmured " and yet, I don't know how to 
thank you." 

The child looked up quickly from her cake. "Why don't 
you kiss him 1 " the quaint little creature asked with a broad 
stare of astonishment. 

Her head sank on her breast. She sighed bitterly. 

" No more of Me ! " she said, suddenly recovering her com- 
posure, and suddenly forcing herself to look at me again. 
" Tell me what happy chance brought you here last night ? " 

" The same chance," I answered, " which took me to Saint 
Anthony's Well." 



Conversation with Mrs. Van Brandt. 231 

She raised herself eagerly in the chair. 

" You have seen me again as you saw me in the summer- 
house by the waterfall ! " she exclaimed. "Was it in Scotland 
once more 1 " 

" No. Farther away than Scotland as far away as Shet- 
land." 

" Tell me about it ! Pray, pray tell me about it ! " 

I related what had happened as exactly as I could, con- 
sistently with maintaining the strictest reserve on one point. 
Concealing from her the very existence of Miss Dunross, I left 
her to suppose that the master of the house was the one person 
whom I had found to receive me, during my sojourn under 
Mr. Dunross's roof. 

" That is strange ! " she exclaimed, after she had heard me 
attentively to the end. 

" What is strange ?" I asked. 

She hesitated, searching my face earnestly with her large 
grave eyes. 

" I hardly like speaking of it," she said. " And yet I ought 
to have no concealments, in such a matter, from you. I under- 
stand everything that you have told me with one exception. 
It seems strange to me that you should only have had one old 
man for your companion while you were at the house in Shet- 
land/' 

"What other companion did you expect to hear of?" I 
inquired. 

"I expected," she answered, "to hear of a lady in the 
house." 

I cannot positively say that the reply took me by surprise : 
it forced me to reflect before I spoke again. I knew, by my 



232 The Two Destinies. 

past experience, that she must have seen me, in my absence 
from her, while I was spiritually present to her mind in a 
trance or dream. Had she also seen the daily companion of 
my life in Shetland Miss Dunross ? 

I put the question in a form which left me free to decide 
whether I should take her unreservedly into my confidence or 
not. 

" Am I right," I began, "in supposing that you dreamed of 
me in Shetland, as you once before dreamed of me while I was 
at my house in Perthshire ? " 

" Yes," she answered. " It was at the close of evening 
this time. I fell asleep, or became insensible I cannot say 
which. And I saw you again, in a vision or a dream." 

" Where did you see me 1 " 

" I first saw you on the bridge over the Scotch river just 
as I met you on the evening when you saved my life. After 
awhile, the stream and the landscape about it faded, and you 
faded with them, into darkness. I waited a little and the 
darkness melted away slowly. I stood, as it seemed to me, in 
a circle of starry light ; fronting a window, with a lake behind 
me, and before me a darkened room. And I looked into the 
room, and the starry light showed you to me again." 

" When did this happen ? Do you remember the date 1 " 

" I remember that it was at the beginning of the month. 
The misfortunes which have since brought me so low, had not 
then fallen on me and yet, as I stood looking at you, I had 
the strangest prevision of calamity that was to come. I felt 
the same absolute reliance on your power to help me that I 
felt when I first dreamed of you in Scotland. And I did the 



Conversation with Mrs. Van Brandt. 233 

same familiar things. I laid my hand on your bosom. I said 
to you, ' Eemember me. Come to me/ I even wrote " 

She stopped, shuddering as if a sudden fear had laid its hold 
on her. Seeing this, and dreading the effect of any violent 
agitation, I hastened to suggest that we should say no more, 
for that day, on the subject of her dream. 

" No," she answered firmly. " There is nothing to be gained 
by giving me time. My dream has been one horrible remem- 
brance on my mind. As long as I live, I believe I shall tremble 
when I think of what I saw near you, in that darkened room." 

She stopped again. Was she approaching the subject of the 
shrouded figure, with the black veil over its head 1 Was she 
about to describe her first discovery, in the dream, of Miss 
Dunross ? 

" Tell me one thing first," she resumed. " Have I been right 
in what I have said to you, so far 1 Is it true that you were 
in a darkened room when you saw me 1 " 

" Quite true." 

"Was the date the beginning of the month 1 ? and was the 
hour the close of evening 1 " 

" Yes." 

" Were you alone in the room 1 Answer me truly ! " 

" I was not alone." 

" Was the master of the house with you 1 or had you some 
other companion ? " 

It would have been worse than useless (after what I had now 
heard) to attempt to deceive her. 

" I had another companion," I answered. " The person in 
the room with me was a woman/' 

Her face showed, as I spoke, that she was again shaken by 



234 The Two Destinies. 

the terrifying recollection to which she had just alluded. I 
had, by this time, some difficulty myself in preserving my 
composure. Still, I was determined not to let a word escape 
me which could operate as a suggestion on the mind of my 
companion. 

" Have you any other question to ask me ? " was all I said. 

" One more/' she answered. " Was there anything unusual 
in the dress of your companion 1 " 

" Yes. She wore a long black veil, which hung over her 
head and face, and dropped to below her waist." 

Mrs. Van Brandt leaned back in her chair, and covered her 
eyes with her hands. 

" I understand your motive for concealing from me the 
presence of that miserable woman in the house," she said. 
" It is good arid kind, like all your motives ; but it is useless. 
While I lay in the trance I saw everything exactly as it was in 
the reality ; and I, too, saw that frightful face ! " 

Those words literally electrified me. 

My conversation of that morning with my mother instantly 
recurred to my memory. I started to my feet. 

" Good God ! " I exclaimed, "what do you mean 1 " 

" Don't you understand yet ? " she asked, in amazement on 
her side. " Must I speak more plainly still 1 When you saw 
the apparition of me, did you see me write 1 " 

" Yes. On a letter that the lady was writing for me. I saw 
the words afterwards ; the words that brought me to you last 
night : < At the month's end. In the shadow of Saint Paul's.' " 

" How did I appear to write on the unfinished letter 1 " 

" You lifted the writing-case, on which the letter and the 



Conversation with Mrs. Van Brandt. 235 

pen lay, off the lady's lap ; and, while you wrote, you rested 
the case on her shoulder." 

"Did you notice if the lifting of the case produced any effect 
on her ? " 

" I saw no effect produced," I answered. " She remained 
immovable in herjchair." 

" I saw it differently in my dream. She raised her hand 
not the hand that was nearest to you, but nearest to me. As 
/ lifted the writing-case, she, lifted her hand, and parted the 
folds of the veil from off her face T suppose to see more 
clearly. It was only for a moment ; and, in that moment, I 
saw what the veil hid. Don't let us speak of it ! You must 
have shuddered at that frightful sight in the reality, as I 
shuddered at it in the dream. You must have asked yourself, as I 
did : Is there nobody to poison the terrible creature, and hide 
her mercifully in the grave ? " 

At these words she abruptly checked herself. I could say 
nothing my face spoke for me. She saw it, and guessed the 
truth. 

" Good Heavens ! " she cried. " You have not seen her ! She 
must have kept her face hidden from you behind the veil ! Oh, 
why, why did you cheat me into talking of it ? I will never 
speak of it again. See, we are frightening the child ! Come 
here, darling; there is nothing to be afraid of. Come, and 
bring your cake with you. You shall be a great lady, giving 
a grand dinner ; and we will be two friends whom you have 
invited to dine with you ; and the doll shall be the little girl 
who comes in after dinner, and has fruit at dessert ! " So she 
ran on, trying vainly to forget the shock that she had inflicted 
on me, in talking nursery nonsense to the child. 



236 The Two Destinies. 

Recovering my composure in some degree, I did my best to 
second the effort that she had made. My quieter thoughts 
suggested that she might well be self-deceived in believing the 
horrible spectacle presented to her in the vision to be an actual 
reflection of the truth. In common justice towards Miss Dun- 
ross, I ought surely not to accept the conviction of her de- 
formity on no better evidence than the evidence of a dream ! 
Reasonable as it undoubtedly was, this view left certain doubts 
still lingering in my mind. The child's instinct soon dis- 
covered that her mother and I were playfellows who felt no 
genuine enjoyment of the game. She dismissed her make- 
believe guests without ceremony, and went back with her doll 
to the favourite play-ground on which I had met her the 
landing outside the door. No persuasion on her mother's part 
or on mine succeeded in luring her back to us. We were left 
together, to face each other as best we might, with the for- 
bidden subject of Miss Dunross between us. 




CHAPTER XXVIII. 

LOVE AND MONEY. 

EELING the embarrassment of the moment most 
painfully on her side, Mrs. Van Brandt spoke first. 
" You have said nothing to me about yourself, 
she began. " Is your life a happier one than it was 
when we last met 1 " 

" I cannot honestly say that it is," I answered. 
" Is there any prospect of your being married 1 " 
" My prospect of being married still rests with you." 
" Don't say that ! " she exclaimed, with an entreating look 
at me. " Don't spoil my pleasure in seeing you again by 
speaking of what can never be ! Have you still to be told 
how it is that you find me here alone with my child ? " 

I forced myself to mention Van Brandt's name, rather than 
hear it pass her lips. 

"I have been told that Mr. Van Brandt is in prison for 
debt," I said. " And I saw for myself last night that he had 
left you helpless." 

" He left me the little money he had with him when he was 
arrested," she rejoined sadly. " His cruel creditors are more 
to blame than he is for the poverty that has fallen on us." 



238 The Two Destinies. 

Even this negative defence of Van Brandt stung me to the 
quick. 

" I ought to have spoken more guardedly of him," I said 
bitterly. " I ought to have remembered that a woman can 
forgive almost any wrong that a man can inflict on her when 
he is the man whom she loves." 

She put her hand on my mouth, and stopped me before I 
could say any more. 

" How can you speak so cruelly to me 1 " she asked. " You 
know to my shame I confessed it to you the last time we met 
you know that my heart, in secret, is all yours. What 
' wrong ' are you talking of ? Is it the wrong I suffered when 
Van Brandt married me, with a wife living at the time (and 
living still) ? Do you think I can ever forget the great mis- 
fortune of my life the misfortune that has made me unworthy 
of you ? It is no fault of mine God knows but it is not 
the less true that I am not married, and that the little darling 
who is playing out there with her doll is my child. And you 
talk of my being your wife, knowing that ! " 

" The child accepts me as her second father," I said. " It 
would be better and happier for us both, if you had as little 
pride as the child." 

" Pride 1 " she repeated. " In such a position as mine ? A 
helpless woman, with a mock-husband in prison for debt ! Say 
that I have not fallen quite so low yet as to forget what is due 
to you, and you will pay me a compliment that will be nearer 
to the truth. Am I to marry you for my food and shelter 1 
Am I to marry you because there is no lawful tie that binds 
me to the father of my child ? Cruelly as he has behaved, he 
has still that claim upon me. Bad as he is, he has not forsaken 



Love and Money. 239 

me ; he has been forced away. My only friend ! is it possible 
that you think me ungrateful enough to consent to be your 
wife ? The woman (in my situation) must be heartless indeed 
who could destroy your place in the estimation of the world, 
and the regard of your friends ! The wretchedest creature 
that walks the streets would shrink from treating you in that 
way. Oh ! what are men made of 1 How can you ; how can 
you speak of it ? " 

I yielded, and spoke of it no more. Every word she uttered 
only increased my admiration of the noble creature whom I 
had loved and lost. What refuge was now left to me 1 But 
one refuge ; I could still offer to her the sacrifice of myself. 
Bitterly as I hated the man who had parted us, I loved her 
dearly enough to be even capable of helping him, for her sake. 
Hopeless infatuation "? I don't deny it ; I don't excuse it 
hopeless infatuation ! 

" You have forgiven me," I said. " Let me deserve to be 
forgiven. It is something to be your only friend. You must 
have plans for the future ; tell me unreservedly how I can 
help you." 

" Complete the good work that you have begun,' ; she an- 
swered gratefully. " Help me back to health. Make me 
strong enough to submit to a doctor's estimate of my chances 
of living for some years yet." 

" A doctor's estimate of your chances of living ? " I repeated. 
" What do you mean 1 " 

" I hardly know how to tell you," she said, " without speak- 
ing again of Mr. Van Brandt." 

"Does speaking of him again mean speaking of his debts 1" 



240 The Two Destinies. 

I asked. " Why need you hesitate 1 You know there is no- 
thing I will not do to relieve your anxieties." 

She looked at me for a moment, in silent distress. 

" Oh ! do you think I would let you give your money to 
Van Brandt 1 " she asked as soon as she could speak. " I who 
owe everything to your devotion to me 1 Never ! Let me tell 
you the plain truth. There is a serious necessity for his getting 
out of prison. He must pay his creditors ; and he has found 
out a way of doing it with my help." 

" Your help!" I exclaimed. 

" Yes ! This is his position in two words. A little while since, 
he obtained an excellent offer of employment abroad, from 
a rich relative of his ; and he had made all his arrangements 
to accept it. Unhappily, he returned to tell me of his good 
fortune ; and the same day he was arrested for debt. His rela- 
tive has offered to keep the situation open for a certain time 
and the time has not yet expired. If he can pay a dividend to 
his creditors they will give him his freedom ; and he believes 
he can raise the money if I consent to insure my life." 

To insure her life ! The snare which had been set for her 
was plainly revealed in those four words. 

In the eye of the law, she was, of course, a single woman : 
she was of age, she was to all intents and purposes her own 
mistress. What was there to prevent her from insuring her 
life, if she pleased, and from so disposing of the insurance as to 
give Yan Brandt a direct interest in her death ? Knowing 
what I knew of him, believing him as I did to be capable of 
any atrocity, I trembled at the bare idea of what might have 
happened, if I had failed to find my way back to her until a 
later date. Thanks to the happy accident of my position, the 



Love and Money, 241 

one certain way of protecting her lay easily within my reach. 
I could offer to lend the scoundrel the money that he wanted, 
at an hour's notice and he was the man to accept my proposal 
quite as easily as I could make it. 

" You don't seem to approve of our idea," she said, noticing 
in evident perplexity the effect which she had produced on me. 
" I am very unfortunate I seem to have innocently disturbed 
and annoyed you for the second time." 

" You are quite mistaken," I replied ; " I am only doubting 
whether your plan for relieving Mr. Van Brandt of his embar- 
rassments is quite so simple as you suppose. Are you aware of 
the delays that are likely to take place before it will be possible 
to borrow money on your policy of insurance ? " 

"I know nothing about it," she said, sadly. 

" Will you let me ask the advice of my lawyers "l They are 
trustworthy and experienced men and I am sure they can be 
of use to you." 

Cautiously as I had expressed myself, her delicacy took the 
alarm. 

" Promise me that you won't ask me to borrow money of you 
for Mr. Van Brandt," she rejoined, "and I will accept your 
help gratefully." 

I could honestly promise that. My one chance of saving her 
lay in keeping from her knowledge the course that I had now 
determined to pursue. I rose to go, while my resolution still 
sustained me. The sooner I made my inquiries (I reminded her), 
the more speedily our present doubts and difficulties would be 
resolved. 

She rose, as I rose with the tears in her eyes and the blush 
on her cheeks. 
Q 



242 The Two Destinies. 

" Kiss me," she whispered, " before you go ! And don't 
mind my crying. I am quite happy now. It is only your 
goodness that overpowers me." 

I pressed her to my heart, with the unacknowledged tender- 
ness of a parting embrace. It was impossible to disguise the 
position in which I had now placed myself I had, so to speak, 
pronounced my own sentence of banishment. When my inter- 
ference had restored my unworthy rival to his freedom, could I 
submit to the degrading necessity of seeing her in his presence, 
of speaking to her under his eyes 1 That sacrifice of myself was 
beyond me and I knew it. " For the last time ! " I thought, 
as I held her to me for a moment longer " for the last time ! " 

The child ran to meet me with open arms when I stepped 
out on the landing. My manhood had sustained me through 
the parting with the mother. It was only when the child's 
round innocent little face laid itself lovingly against mine that 
my fortitude gave way. I was past speaking I put her down 
gently in silence, and waited on the lower flight of stairs until 
I was fit to face the world outside. 





CHAPTER XXIX. 

OUR DESTINIES PART US. 

ESCENDING to the ground floor of the house, I 
sent to request a moment's interview with the land- 
lady. I had yet to learn in which of the London 
prisons Van Brandt was confined ; and she was the 
only person to whom I could venture to address the 
question. 

Having answered my inquiries, the woman put her own 
sordid construction on my motive for visiting the prisoner. 

" Has the money you left up-stairs gone into his greedy 
pockets already ? " she asked. " If I was as rich as you are, I 
should let it go. In your place I wouldn't touch him with a 
pair of tongs ! " 

The woman's coarse warning actually proved useful to me 
it started a new idea in my mind ! Before she spoke, I had 
been too dull or too preoccupied to see that it was quite need- 
less to degrade myself by personally communicating with Van 
Brandt in his prison. It only now occurred to me that my 
legal advisers were, as a matter of course, the proper persons 
to represent me in the matter with this additional advantage, 
that they could keep my share in the transaction a secret even 
from Van Brandt himself. 



241 The Two Destinies. 

I drove at once to the office of my lawyers. The senior part- 
ner the tried friend and adviser of our family received me. 

My instructions, naturally enough, astonished him. He was 
immediately to satisfy the prisoner's creditors, on my behalf, 
without mentioning my name to any one. And he was gravely 
to accept as security for repayment Mr. Van Brandt's note of 
hand ! 

" I thought I was well acquainted with the various methods 
by which a gentleman can throw away his money," the senior 
partner remarked. " I congratulate you, Mr. Germaine, on hav- 
ing discovered an entirely new way of effectually emptying your 
purse. Founding a newspaper, taking a theatre, keeping race- 
horses, gambling at Monaco are highly efficient as modes of 
losing money. But they all yield, sir, to paying the debts of 
Mr. Van Brandt ! " 

I left him, and went home. 

The servant who opened the door had a message for me from 
my mother. She wished to see me as soon as I was at leisure 
to speak to her. 

I presented myself at once in my mother's sitting-room. 

" Well, George," she said, without a word to prepare me 
for what was coming, " how have you left Mrs. Van Brandt ?" 

I was completely thrown off my guard. 

" Who has told you that I have seen Mrs. Van Brandt ? " I 
asked. 

"My dear ! your face has told me. Don't I know by this 
time how you look and how you speak when Mrs. Van Brandt 
is in your mind 1 Sit down by me. I have something to say to 
you, which I wanted to say this morning but, I hardly know 
why, my heart failed me. I am bolder now ; and I can say it. 



Our Destinies Part Us. 245 

My son ! you still love Mrs. Yan Brandt. You have my per- 
mission to marry her/' 

Those were the words ! Hardly an hour had elapsed since 
Mrs. Van Brandt's own lips had told me that our union was 
impossible. Not even half an hour had elapsed since I had 
given directions which would restore to liberty the man who 
was the one obstacle to my marriage. And this was the time 
that my mother had innocently chosen for consenting to receive 
as her daughter-in-law Mrs. Van Brandt ! 

" I see that I surprise you," she resumed. " Let me explain 
my motive as plainly as I can. I should not be speaking the 
truth, George, if I told you that I have ceased to feel the se- 
rious objections that there are to your marrying this lady. The 
only difference in my way of thinking is, that I am now willing 
to set my objections aside, out of regard for your happiness. I 
am an old woman, my dear. In the course of nature I cannot 
hope to be with you much longer. When I am gone, who will 
be left to care for you and love you, in the place of your mo- 
ther ? No one will be left unless you marry Mrs. Van Brandt. 
Your happiness is my first consideration ; and the woman you 
love (sadly as she has been led astray) is a woman worthy of a 
better fate. Marry her." 

I could not trust myself to speak. I could only kneel at my 
mother's feet, and hide my face on her knees, as if I had been 
a boy again. 

" Think of it, George," she said. " And come back to me 
when you are composed enough to speak as quietly of the future 
as I do." 

She lifted my head, and kissed me. As I rose to leave her, 
I saw something in the dear old eyes that met mine so tenderly, 



246 The Two Destinies. 

which struck a sudden fear through me keen and cutting like 
a stroke from a knife. 

The moment I had closed the door, I went downstairs to the 
porter in the hall. 

" Has my mother left the house," I asked, " while I have 
been away 1 " 

" No, sir." 

" Have any visitors called 1 " 

" One visitor has called, sir." 

" Do you know who it was 1 " 

The porter mentioned the name of a celebrated physician 
a man at the head of his profession in tho^e days. I instantly 
took my hat, and went to his house. 

He had just returned from his round of visits. My card was 
taken to him, and was followed at once by my admission to his 
consulting-room. 

" You have seen my mother," I said. " Is she seriously ill 
and have you not concealed it from her 1 For God's sake, tell 
me the truth ; I can bear it." 

The great man took me kindly by the hand. 

" Your mother stands in no need of any warning ; she is her- 
self aware of the critical state of her health," he said. " She 
sent for me to confirm her own conviction. I could not conceal 
from her I must not conceal from you that the vital energies 
are sinking. She may live for some months longer in a milder 
air than the air of London. That is all I can say. At her age, 
her days are numbered." 

He gave me time to steady myself under the blow; and then 
he placed his vast experience, his matured and consummate 
knowledge, at my disposal. From his dictation, I committed to 



Our Destinies Part Us. 247 

writing the necessary instructions for watching over the frail 
tenure of my mother's life. 

"Let me give you one word of warning/ he said, as we parted. 
" Your mother is especially desirous that you should know no- 
thing of the precarious condition of her health. Her one anxiety 
is to see you happy. If she discovers your visits to me, I will 
not answer for the consequences. Make the best excuse you 
can think of for at once taking her away from London and, 
whatever you may feel in secret, keep up an appearance of good 
spirits in her presence." 

That evening I made my excuse. It was easily found. I had 
only to tell my poor mother of Mrs. Van Brandt's refusal to 
marry me ; and there was an intelligible motive assigned for my 
proposing to leave London. The same night I wrote to inform 
Mrs. Van Brandt of the sad event which was the cause of my 
sudden departure, and to warn her that there no longer existed 
the slightest necessity for insuring her life. " My lawyers " (I 
wrote) " have undertaken to arrange Mr. Van Brandt's affairs 
immediately. In a few hours he will be at liberty to accept the 
situation that has been offered to him." The last lines of the 
letter assured her of my unalterable love, and entreated her to 
write to me before she left England. 

This done, all was done. I was conscious, strange to say, of 
no acutely painful suffering at this saddest time of my life. 
There is a limit, morally as well as physically, to our capacity 
for endurance. I can only describe my sensations under the 
calamities that had now fallen on me, in one way I felt like a 
man whose mind had been stunned. 

The next day, my mother and I set forth on the first stage of 
our journey to the south coast of Devonshire. 



CHAPTER XXX. 




A GLANCE BACKWARDS. 

HREE days after my mother and I had established 
ourselves at Torquay, I received Mrs. Van Brandt's 
answer to my letter. After the opening sentences 
(informing me that Van Brandt had been set at 
liberty, under circumstances painfully suggestive to 
the writer of some unacknowledged sacrifice on my 
part) the letter proceeded in these terms : 

" The new employment which Mr. Van Brandt is to under- 
take secures to us the comforts, if not the luxuries, of life. 
For the first time since my troubles began, I have the prospect 
before me of a peaceful existence, among a foreign people from 
whom all that is false in my position may be concealed not 
for my sake, but for the sake of my child. To more than this, 
to the happiness which some women enjoy, I must not, I dare 
not, aspire. 

" We leave England for the Continent early to-morrow 
morning. Shall I tell you in what part of Europe my new re- 
sidence is to be 1 

"No ! You might write to me again ; and I might write 
back. The one poor return I can make to the good angel of 



A Glance Backwards. 249 

my life, is to help him to forget me. What right have I to 
cling to my usurped place in your regard ? The time will 
come when you will give your heart to a woman who is worthier 
of it than I am. Let me drop out of your life except as an 
occasional remembrance, when you sometimes think of the 
days that have gone for ever. 

" I shall not be without some consolation, on my side, when 
I too look back at the past. I have been a better woman 
since I met with you. Live as long as I may, I shall al- 
ways remember that. 

11 Yes ! the influence that you have had over me has been 
from first to last an influence for good. Allowing that I have 
done wrong (in my position) to love you and worse even than 
that, to own it still the love has been innocent, and the effort 
to control it has been an honest eifort at least. But, apart 
from this, my heart tells me that I am the better for the sym- 
pathy which has united us. I may confess to you what T have 
never acknowledged now that we are so widely parted, and so 
little likely ever to meet again. Whenever I have given myself 
up unrestrainedly to my own better impulses, they have always 
seemed to lead me to You. Whenever my mind has been 
most truly at peace, and I have been able to pray with a pure 
and a penitent heart, I have felt as if there was some unseen 
tie that was drawing us nearer and nearer together. And, 
strange to say, this has always happened to me (just as my 
dreams of you have always come to me) when I have been 
separated from Van Brandt. At such times, thinking or 
dreaming, it has always appeared to me that I knew you 
far more familiarly than I know you when we meet face to 
face. Is there really such a thing, I wonder, as a former 



250 The Two Destinies. 

\ 

state of existence ? And were we once constant companions 
in some other sphere, thousands of years since ? These are 
idle guesses ! Let it be enough for me to remember that I have 
been the better for knowing you without inquiring how or 
why. 

" Farewell, my beloved benefactor, my only friend ! The 
child sends you a kiss ; and the mother signs herself your 
grateful and affectionate, 

" M. VAN BRANDT." 

When I first read those lines, they once more recalled to my 
memory very strangely as I then thought the predictions of 
Dame Dermody in the days of my boyhood. Here were the 
foretold sympathies which were spiritually to unite me to 
Mary, realized by a stranger whom I had met by chance in the 
later years of my life ! 

Thinking in this direction, did I advance no farther ? Not 
a step farther ? Not a suspicion of the truth presented itself 
to my mind, even yet. 

Was my own dulness of apprehension to blame for this ? 
Would another man, in my position, have discovered what I 
failed to see 1 

I look back upon the chain of events which runs through my 
narrative ; and I ask myself, Where are the possibilities to be 
found in my case, or in the case of any other man of identify- 
ing the child who was Mary Dermody with the woman who 
was Mrs. Van Brandt ? Was there anything left in our faces, 
when we met again by the Scotch river, to remind us of our 
younger selves 1 We had developed, in the interval, from boy 
and girl, to man and woman : no outward traces were dis- 



A Glance Backwards. 251 

cernible in us of the George and Mary of other days. Disguised 
from each other by our faces, we were also disguised by our 
names. Her mock-marriage had changed her surname. My 
stepfather's Will had changed mine. Her Christian name was 
the commonest of all names of woman ; and mine was almost as 
far from being remarkable among the names of men. Turning 
next to the various occasions on which we had met, had we 
seen enough of each other to drift into recognition on either 
side, in the ordinary course of talk 1 We had met but four 
times in all : once on the bridge, once again in Edinburgh, 
twice more in London. On each of those occasions, the ab- 
sorbing anxieties and interests of the passing moment had 
filled her mind and mine, had inspired her words and mine. 
When had the events which brought us together, left us 
with leisure enough and tranquillity enough to look back idly 
through our lives, and calmly to compare the recollections of 
our youth 1 Never ! From first to last, the course of events 
had borne us farther and farther away from any result that 
could have led even to a suspicion of the truth. She could 
believe when she wrote to me on leaving England, and I 
could only believe when I read her letter, that we had first 
met at the river, and that our divergent destinies had ended 
in parting us for ever. 

Reading her farewell letter in later days, by the light of 
my matured experience, I note how remarkably Dame Dermody's 
faith in the purity of the tie that united us, as kindred spirits, 
was justified by the result. 

It was only when my unknown Mary was parted from Van 
Brandt in other words, it was only when she was a pure 
spirit that she felt my influence over her as a refining influ- 



252 The Two Destinies. 

ence on her life, and that the apparition of her communicated 
with me in the visible and perfect likeness of herself. On my 
side, when was it that I dreamed of her (as in Scotland), or 
felt the mysterious warning of her presence in my waking 
moments (as in Shetland) 1 Always at the time when my 
heart opened most tenderly towards her and towards others 
when my mind was most free from the bitter doubts, the self- 
seeking aspirations, which degrade the divinity within us. 
Then, and then only, my sympathy with her was the perfect 
sympathy which holds its fidelity unassailable by the chances 
and changes, the delusions and temptations of mortal life. 




CHAPTER XXXI. 




MISS DUNJIOSS. 

BSORBED in watching over the closing days of my 
mother's life, I found in devoting myself to this 
sacred duty my only consolation under the over- 
throw of my last hope of marriage with Mrs. Van 
Brandt. 

By degrees, my mother felt tbe reviving influ" 
ences of a quiet life and a soft air. The improvement in her 
health could, as I but too well knew, be only an improvement 
for a time. Still, it was a relief to see her free from pain, and 
innocently happy in the presence of her son. Excepting those 
hours of the day and night which were dedicated to repose, I 
was never away from her. To this day I remember, with a 
tenderness which attaches to no other memories of mine, the 
books that I read to her, the sunny corner on the seashore 
where I sat with her, the games of cards that we played 
together, the little trivial gossip that amused her when she 
was strong enough for nothing else. These are my imperish- 
able relics ; these are the deeds of my life that I shall love 
best to look back on, when the all-enfolding shadows of death 
are closing round me. 
In the hours when I was alone, my thoughts occupying them- 



254 The Two Destinies. 

selves mostly among the persons and events of the past wan- 
dered back many and many a time to Shetland and Miss Dunross. 

My haunting doubt as to what the black veil had really hid- 
den from me, was no longer accompanied by a feeling of horror 
when it now recurred to my mind. The more vividly my later 
remembrances of Miss Dunross were associated with the idea 
of an unutterable bodily affliction, the higher the noble nature 
of the woman seemed to rise in my esteem. 

For the first time since I had left Shetland, the temptation 
now came to me to disregard the injunction which her father 
had laid on me at parting. When I thought again of the stolen 
kiss, in the dead of night ; when I recalled the appearance of 
the frail white hand, waving to me through the dark curtains 
its last farewell and when there mingled with these memories 
the later rememl|rance of what my mother had suspected, and 
of what Mrs. Van Brandt had seen in her dream the longing 
in me to find a means of assuring Miss Dunross that she still 
had her place apart in my memory and my heart, was more 
than mortal fortitude could resist. I was pledged in honour 
riot to return to Shetland, and not to write. How to commu- 
nicate with her secretly, in some other way, was the constant 
question in my mind as the days went on. A hint to enlighten 
me was all that I wanted and, as the irony of circumstances 
ordered it, my mother was the person who gave me the hint. 

We still spoke, at intervals, of Mrs. Yan Brandt. Watching 
me on those occasions when we were in the company of ac- 
quaintances at Torquay, my mother plainly discerned that no 
other woman, whatever her attractions might be, could take 
the place in my heart of the woman whom I had lost. Seeing 
but one prospect of happiness for me, she refused to abandon 



Miss Dunross. 255 



the idea of my marrying Mrs. Van Brandt. When a woman 
has owned that she loves a man (so my mother used to express 
her opinion), it is that man's fault, no matter what the obstacles 
may be, if he fails to make her his wife. Reverting to this 
view in various ways, she pressed it on my consideration one 
day in these words : 

" There is one drawback, George, to my happiness in being 
here with you. I am an obstacle in the way of your commu- 
nicating with Mrs. Van Brandt. " 

" You forget," I said, " that she has left England, without 
telling me where to find her." 

" If you were free from the incumbrance of your mother, my 
dear, you could easily find her. Even as things are, you might 
surely write to her ? Don't mistake my motives, George ! If 
I Had any hope of your forgetting her if I saw you only 
moderately attracted by one or other of the charming women 
whom we know here I should say let us never speak again, 
or think again, of Mrs. Van Brandt. But, my dear, your 
heart is closed to every woman but one. Be happy in your 
own way, and let me see it before I die. The wretch to 
whom that poor creature is sacrificing her life will, sooner or 
later, ill-treat her, or desert her and then she must turn to 
you. Don't let her think that you are resigned to the loss of 
her. The more resolutely you set her scruples at defiance, the 
more she will love you and admire you in secret. Women are 
like that. Send her a letter and follow it with a little present. 
You talked of taking me to the studio of the young artist 
here, who left his card the other day. I am told that he paints 
admirable portraits in miniature. Why not send your portrait 
to Mrs. Van Brandt 1 " 



256 The Two Destinies. 

Here was the idea of which I had been vainly in search ! 
Quite superfluous as a method of pleading my cause with Mrs. 
Van Brandt, the portrait offered the best of all means of com- 
municating with Miss Dunross without absolutely violating 
the engagement to which her father had pledged me. In this 
way, without writing a word, without even sending a message, 
I might tell her how gratefully she was remembered ; I might 
remind her of me tenderly in the bitterest moments of her sad 
and solitary life. 

The same day, I went to the artist privately. The sittings 
were afterwards continued during the hours while my mother 
was resting in the other room, until the portrait was complet- 
ed. I caused it to be enclosed in a plain gold locket, with a 
chain attached ; and I forwarded my gift, in the first instance, 
to the one person whom I could trust to assist me in arranging 
for the conveyance of it to its destination. This was the 
old friend (alluded to in these pages as "Sir James") 
who had taken me with him to Shetland in the Government 
yach't. 

I had no reason, in writing the necessary explanations, to 
express myself to Sir James with any reserve. On the voyage 
back, we had more than once spoken together confidentially of 
Miss Dunross. Sir James had heard her sad story from the 
resident medical man at Lerwick, who had been an old com- 
panion of his in their college days. Requesting him to confide 
my gift to this gentleman, I did not hesitate to acknowledge 
the doubt that oppressed me, in relation to the mystery of the 
black veil. It was, of course, impossible to decide whether the 
doctor would be able to relieve that doubt. I could on)y ven- 
ture to suggest that the question might be guardedly put, in 



Miss Dunross. 257 

making the customary inquiries after the health of Miss Dun- 
ross. 

In those days of slow communication, I had to wait, not for 
days but for weeks, before I could expect to receive Sir James's 
answer. His letter only reached me after an unusually long 
delay. For this, or for some other reason which I cannot divine, 
I felt so strongly the foreboding of bad news, that I abstained 
from breaking the seal in my mother's presence. I waited 
until I could retire to my own room and then I opened the 
letter. 

My presentiment had not deceived me. Sir James's reply 
contained these words only : " The lines that I enclose tell 
their own sad story, without help from me. I cannot grieve 
for her. I feel heartily sorry for you." 

The letter thus described was addressed to Sir James by the 
doctor at Lerwick. I copy it, without comment, in these words : 

" The late stormy weather has delayed the vessel, by means 
of which we communicate with the mainland. I have only re- 
ceived your letter to-day. With it, there has arrived a little 
box, containing a gold locket and chain ; being the present 
which you ask me to convey privately to Miss Dunross, from a 
friend of yours whose name you are not at liberty to mention. 

" In transmitting these instructions, you have innocently 
placed me in a position of extreme difficulty. 

" The poor lady for whom the gift is intended, is near the 
end of her life a life of such complicated and terrible suffering 
that death comes, in her case, literally as a mercy and a deliver- 
ance. Under these melancholy circumstances, I am, I think, 
not to blame if I hesitate to give her the locket in secret ; not 
R 



258 The Two Destinies. 

knowing with what associations this keepsake is connected, or 
of what serious agitation it may not possibly be the cause. 

" In this state of doubt, I have ventured on opening the 
locket and my hesitation is naturally increased. I am quite 
ignorant of the remembrances which my unhappy patient may 
connect with the portrait. I don't know whether it will give 
her pleasure or pain to receive it, in her last moments on earth. 
I can only resolve to take it with me, when I see her to- 
morrow, and to let circumstances decide whether I shall risk 
giving it to her or not. Our post to the south only leaves this 
place in three days' time. So I can keep my letter open, and 
let you know the result. 



" I have seen her ; and I have just returned to my own 
house. My distress of mind is great. But I will do my best 
to write intelligibly and fully of what has happened. 

" Her sinking energies, when I first saw her this morning, 
had rallied for the moment. The nurse informed me that she 
slept during the early hours of the new day. Previously to 
this, there were symptoms of fever, accompanied by some slight 
'~ium. The words that escaped her in this condition ap- 
have related mainly to an absent person whom she 
pear to -r the name of ' George.' Her one anxiety, I am told, 
spoke of b> ?orge > again before she died, 
was to see ' < it struc k me as barely possible that the por- 

" Hearing this, -^ be the portrait of the absent person 
trait in the locket tm b ^ ^^ ^ ^^ ^ hand .^ ^.^ 

I sent her nurse out c admirable courage and strength of 

Trusting partly to 1 - > which j ^ 

mind, and partly to the conMe, ^ ^ J 

me as an old friend and adviser, 1 a* 



Miss Dunross. 259 



had fallen from her in the feverish state. And then I said, 
' You know that any secret of yours is safe in my keeping. 
Tell me, do you expect to receive any little keepsake or memo- 
rial from George V 

" It was a risk to run. The black veil which she always 
wears was over her face. I had nothing to tell me of the 
effect which I was producing upon her, except the changing 
temperature or the partial movement of her hand, as it lay in 
mine, just under the silk coverlet of the bed. 

" She said nothing at first. Her hand turned suddenly from 
cold to hot, and closed with a quick pressure on mine. Her 
breathing became oppressed. When she spoke it was with 
difficulty. She told me nothing ; she only put a question. 

" ' Is he here ? ' she asked. 

" I said, ' Nobody is here but myself.' 

" ' Is there a letter ? ' 

" I said, < No/ 

" She was silent for awhile. Her hand turned cold ; the 
grasp of her fingers loosened. She spoke again : ' Be quick, 
doctor ! Whatever it is, give it to me before I die.' 

" I risked the experiment ; 1 opened the locket, arid put it 
into her hand. 

" So far as I could discover, she refrained from looking at it 
at first. She said, ' Turn me in the bed, with my face to the wall.' 
I obeyed her. With her back turned towards me, she lifted 
her veil ; and then (as I suppose) she looked at the portrait. 
A long low cry not of sorrow or pain ; a cry of rapture and 
delight burst from her. I heard her kiss the portrait. Ac- 
customed as I am in my profession to piteous sights and 
sounds, I never remember so completely losing my self-control 



260 The Two Destinies. 

as I lost it at that moment. I was obliged to turn away to the 
window. 

" Hardly a minute could have passed before I was back 
again at the bedside. The veil was drawn once more over her 
face. Her voice had sunk again ; I could only hear what she 
said, by leaning over her, and placing my ear close to her lips. 

" ' Put it round my neck/ she whispered. 

" I clasped the chain of the locket round her neck. She 
tried to lift her hand to it but her strength failed her. 

" ' Help me to hide it,' she said. 

" I guided her hand. She hid the locket in her bosom, 
under the white dressing-gown which she wore that day. The 
oppression in her breathing increased. I raised her on the 
pillow. The pillow was not high enough. I rested her head 
on my shoulder, and partially opened her veil. She spoke 
again, feeling a momentary relief. 

" Promise,' she said, < that no stranger's hand shall touch 
me. Promise to bury me as I am now.' 

" I gave her my promise. 

" Her failing breath quickened. She was just able to articu 
late the next words : 

" ' Cover my face again.' 

" I drew the veil over her face. She rested awhile in silence. 
Suddenly, the sound of her labouring respiration ceased. She 
started and raised her head from my shoulder. 

" 'Are you in pain ? ' I asked. 

" * I am in Heaven ! ' she answered. 

" Her head dropped on my breast as she spoke. In that 
last outburst of joy, her last breath had passed. The moment 



Miss Dunross. 261 

of her supreme happiness and the moment of her death were 
one. The mercy of God had found her at last. 



" I return to my letter before the post goes out. 

" I have taken the necessary measures for the performance of 
my promise. She will be buried, with the locket hidden in 
her bosom, and with the black veil over her face. No nobler 
creature ever breathed the breath of life. Tell the stranger 
who sent her his portrait that her last moments were joyful 
moments through his remembrance of her, as expressed by 
his gift. 

" I observe a passage in your letter to which I have not 
yet replied. You ask me if there was any more serious reason 
for the persistent hiding of her face under the veil, than the 
reason which she was accustomed to give to the persons about 
her. It is true that she suffered under a morbid sensitiveness 
to the action of light. It is also true that this was not the 
only result, or the worst result, of the malady that afflicted her. 
She had another reason for keeping her face hidden a reason 
known to two persons only : to the doctor who lives in the 
village near her father's house, and to myself. We are both 
pledged never to divulge to any living creature what our eyes 
alone have seen. We have kept our terrible secret, even from 
her father, and we shall carry it with us to our graves. I have 
no more to say on this melancholy subject to the person in 
whose interests you write. When he thinks of her now, let 
him think of the beauty which no bodily affliction can profane 
the beauty of the freed Spirit, eternally happy in its union 
with the angels of God. 



262 The Two Destinies. 



11 1 may add, before I close my letter, that the poor old 
father will not be left in cheerless solitude at the lake-house. 
He will pass the remainder of his days under my roof ; with 
my good wife to take care of him, and my children to remind 
him of the brighter side of life." 

So the letter ended. I put it away, and went out. The 
solitude of my room forewarned me unendurably of the coming 
solitude in my own life. My interests in this busy world were 
now narrowed to one object to the care of my mother's fail- 
ing health. Of the two women whose hearts had once beaten 
in loving sympathy with mine, one lay in her grave, and the 
other was lost to me in a foreign land. On the drive by the 
sea I met my mother, in her little pony-chaise, moving slowly 
under the mild, wintry sunshine. I dismissed the man who 
was in attendance on her, and walked by the side of the chaise 
with the reins in my hand. We chatted quietly on trivial sub- 
jects. I closed my eyes to the dreary future that was before 
me ; and tried, in the intervals of the heart-ache, to live re- 
signedly in the passing hour. 




CHAPTER XXXII. 

THE PHYSICIAN'S OPINION. 

IX months have elapsed. Summer-time has come 
again. 

The last parting is over; Prolonged by my 
care, the days of my mother's life have come to 
their end. She has died in my arms ; her last 
words have been spoken to me, her last look on 
earth has been mine. I am now, in the saddest and plainest 
meaning of the words, alone in the world. 

The affliction which has befallen me has left certain duties 
to be performed that require my presence in London. My 
house is let ; I am staying at an hotel. My friend, Sir James 
(also in London on business), has rooms near mine. We 
breakfast and dine together, in my sitting-room. For the mo- 
ment, solitude is dreadful to me and yet, I cannot go into so- 
ciety ; I shrink from persons who are mere acquaintances. At 
Sir James's suggestion, however, one visitor at our hotel has 
been asked to dine with us, who claims distinction as no or- 
dinary guest. The physician who first warned me of the criti- 
cal state of my mother's health, is anxious to hear what I can 
tell him of her last moments. His time is too precious to be 
wasted in the earlier hours of the day ; and he joins us at the 



264 The Two Destinies. 

dinner-table when his ^patients leave him free to visit his 
friends. 

The dinner is nearly at an end. I have made the effort to 
preserve my self-control ; and, in few words, I have told the 
simple story of my mother's last peaceful days on earth. The 
conversation turns next on topics of little interest to me : my 
mind rests after the effort that it has made ; my observation is 
left free to exert itself as usual. 

Little by little, as the talk goes on, I observe something in 
the conduct of the celebrated physician which first puzzles me, 
and then arouses my suspicion of some motive for his presence, 
which has not been acknowledged, and in which I am con- 
cerned. 

Over and over again, I discover that his eyes are resting on 
me with a furtive interest and attention which he seems anxious 
to conceal. Over and over again , I notice that he contrives to 
divert the conversation from general topics, and to lure me in- 
to talking of myself ; and, stranger still (unless I am quite 
mistaken), Sir James understands and encourages him. Under 
various pretences, I am questioned about what I have suffered 
in the past, and what plans of life I have formed for the future. 
Among other subjects of personal interest to me, the subject of 
supernatural appearances is introduced. I am asked if I be- 
lieve in occult spiritual sympathies, and in ghostly apparitions 
of dead or distant persons. I am dexterously let into hinting 
that my views on this difficult and debateable question are in 
some degree influenced by experiences of my own. Hints, 
however, are not enough to satisfy the doctor's innocent curi- 
osity : he tries to induce me to relate in detail what I have 
myself seen and felt. But by this time I am on my guard ; 



The Physicians Opinion. 265 

I make excuses ; I steadily abstain from taking my friend into 
my confidence. It is more and more plain to me that I am be- 
ing made the subject of an experiment, in which Sir James and 
the physician are equally interested. Outwardly assuming to 
be guiltless of any suspicion of what is going on, I inwardly 
determine to discover the true motive for the doctor's presence 
that evening, and for the part that Sir James has taken in in- 
viting him to be my guest. 

Events favour my purpose, soon after the dessert has been 
placed on the table. 

The waiter enters the room, with a letter for me, and an- 
nounces that the bearer waits to know if there is any answer. 
I open the envelope, and find inside a few lines from my 
lawyers, announcing the completion of some formal matter of 
business. I at once seize the opportunity that is offered to 
me. Instead of sending a verbal message downstairs, I make 
my apologies, and use the letter as a pretext for leaving the 
room. 

Dismissing the messenger who waits below, I return to the 
corridor in which my rooms are situated, and softly open the 
door of my bedchamber. A second door communicates with 
the sitting-room, and has a ventilator in the upper part of it. 
I have only to stand under the ventilator, and every word of 
conversation between Sir James and the physician reaches 
my ears. 

" Then you think I am right 1 " are the first words I hear, in 
Sir James's voice. 

"Quite right," the doctor answers. 

" I have done my best to make him change his dull way of 
life," Sir James proceeds. " I have asked Jiim to pay a visit 



266 The Two Destinies. 

to my house in Scotland ; 1 have proposed travelling with him 
on the Continent ; I have offered to take him with me, on my 
next voyage in the yacht. He has but one answer he simply 
says No to everything that I can suggest. You have heard 
from his own lips that he has no definite plans for the future. 
What is to become of him 1 What had we better do 1 " 

" It is not easy to say/' I hear the physician reply. " To 
speak plainly, the man's nervous system is seriously deranged. 
I noticed something strange in him when he first came to con- 
sult me about his mother's health. The mischief has not been 
caused entirely by the affliction of her death. In my belief, 
his mind has been what shall I say 1 unhinged for some 
time past. He is a very reserved person. I suspect he has 
been oppressed by anxieties which he has kept secret from every 
one. At his age the unacknowledged troubles of life are gene- 
rally troubles caused by women. It is in his temperament to 
take the romantic view of love ; and some matter-of-fact woman 
of the present day may have bitterly disappointed him. What- 
ever may be the cause, the effect is plain his nerves have 
broken down ; and his brain is necessarily affected by whatever 
affects his nerves. I have known men in his condition who 
have ended badly. He may drift into insane delusions, if his 
present course of life is not altered. Did you hear what he 
said when we talked about ghosts ? " 

" Sheer nonsense ! 7; Sir James remarks. 

" Sheer delusion would be the more correct form of expres- 
sion," the doctor rejoins. " And other delusions may flow out 
of it, at any moment." 

" What is to be done ? " persists Sir James ; " I may really 
say for myself, doctor, that I feel a fatherly interest in the 



The Physician s Opinion. 267 

poor fellow. His mother was one of my oldest and dearest 
friends and he has inherited many of her engaging arid en- 
dearing qualities. I hope you don't think the case is bad 
enough to be a case for restraint 1 " 

" Certainly not, as yet/' answers the doctor. " So far there 
is no positive brain disease ; and there is accordingly no sort 
of reason for placing him under restraint. It is essentially a 
doubtful and a difficult case. Have him privately looked after 
by a competent person, and thwart him in nothing, if you can 
possibly help it. The merest trifle may excite his suspicions 
and, if that happens, we lose all control over him." 

" You don't think he suspects us already do you, doctor 1 ' 

" I hope not. I saw him once or twice look at me rather 
strangely and he has certainly been a long time out of the 
room." 

Hearing this, 1 wait to hear no more. I return to the sit- 
ting-room (by way of the corridor), and resume my place at the 
table. 

The indignation that I feel naturally enough, I think, un- 
der the circumstances makes a good actor of me, for once in 
my life. I invent the necessary excuse for my long absence* 
and take my part in the conversation ; keeping the strictest 
guard on every word that escapes me, without betraying any 
appearance of restraint in my manner. Early in the evening 
the doctor leaves us, to go to a scientific meeting. For half 
an hour more Sir James remains with me. By way (as T sup- 
pose) of further testing the state of my mind, he renews the 
invitation to his house in Scotland. I pretend to feel flattered 
by his anxiety to secure me as his guest. I undertake to re- 
consider my first refusal, and to give him a definite answer 



268 The Two Destinies. 

when we meet the next morning at breakfast. Sir James is 
delighted ; we shake hands cordially, and wish each other good 
night. At last I am left alone. 

My resolution as to my next course of proceeding is formed 
without a moment's hesitation. I determined to leave the 
hotel privately the next morning, before Sir James is out of 
his bedroom. 

To what destination I am to betake myself is naturally the 
next question that arises and this also I easily decide. Dur- 
ing the last days of my mother's life, we spoke together fre- 
quently of the happy past days when we were living on the 
banks of the Greenwater lake. The longing thus inspired to 
look once more at the old scenes, to live for awhile again among 
the old assocaitions, has grown on me since my mother's death. 
I have, happily for myself, not spoken of this feeling to Sir 
James, or to any other person. When I am missed at the 
hotel, there will be no suspicion of the direction in which I 
have turned my steps. To the old home in Suffolk I resolve to 
go the next morning. Wandering among the scenes of my 
boyhood, I can consider with myself how I may best bear the 
burden of the life that lies before me. 

After what I have heard that evening, I confide in nobody. 
For all I know to the contrary, my own servant may be em- 
ployed to-morrow as the spy who watches my actions. When 
the man makes his appearance to take his orders for the night* 
I tell him to wake me at six o'clock the next morning, and re- 
lease him from further attendance. 

I next employ myself in writing two letters. They will be 
left on the table, to speak for themselves after my departure. 

In the first letter I briefly inform Sir James that I have dis- 



The Physicians Opinion. 269 

covered his true reason for inviting the doctor to dinner. 
While I thank him for the interest he takes in my welfare, I 
decline to be made the object of any further medical inquiries 
as to the state of my mind. In due course of time, when my 
plans are settled, he will hear from me again. Meanwhile, he 
need feel no anxiety about my safety. It is one among my 
other delusions to believe that I am still perfectly capable of 
taking care of myself. My second letter is addressed to the 
landlord of the hotel, and simply provides for the disposal of 
my luggage and the payment of my bill. 

I enter my bedroom next, and pack a travelling bag with 
the few things that I can carry with me. My money is in my 
dressing-case. Opening it, I discover my pretty keepsake the 
green flag. Can I return to Green water Broad, can I look 
again at the bailiff's cottage, without the one memorial of little 
Mary that I possess ? Besides, have I not promised Miss 
Dunross that Mary's gift shall always go with me wherever I 
go ; and is the promise not doubly sacred, now that she is 
dead 1 For awhile I sit idly looking at the device on the flag 
the white dove, embroidered on the green ground, with the 
golden olive branch in its beak. The innocent love-story of 
my early life returns to my memory, and shows me in horri- 
ble contrast the life that I am leading now. I fold up the flag, and 
place it carefully in my travelling-bag. This done, all is done. 
I may rest till the morning comes. 

No ! I lie down in bed and I discover that there is no 
rest for me that night. 

Now that I have no occupation to keep my energies em- 
ployed now that my first sense of triumph in the discomfiture 
of the friends who have plotted against me has had time to 



271 The Two Destinies. 

subside my mind reverts to the conversation that I have over- 
heard, and considers it from a new point of view. For the 
first time the terrible question confronts me : The doctor's 
opinion on my case has been given very positively : how do I 
know that the doctor is not right ? 

This famous physician has risen to the head of his profes- 
sion entirely by his own abilities. He is not one of the medi- 
cal men who succeed by means of an ingratiating manner and 
the dexterous handling of good opportunities. Even his ene- 
mies admit that he stands unrivalled in the art of separating 
the true conditions from the false in the discovery of disease, 
and in tracing effects accurately to their distant and hidden 
cause. Is such a man as this likely to be mistaken about me ? 
Is it not far more probable that I am mistaken in my judg- 
ment of myself 1 

When I look back over the past years, am I quite sure that 
the strange events which I recall may not, in certain cases, be 
the visionary product of my own disordered brain realities 
to me, and to no one else 1 What are the dreams of Mrs. Yan 
Brandt what are the ghostly apparitions of her which I be- 
lieve myself to have seen 1 Delusions which have been the 
stealthy growth of years 1 Delusions which are leading 
me by slow degrees nearer and nearer to madness in the end ? 
Is it insane suspicion which has made me so angry with the 
good friends who have been trying to save my reason ? Is it 
insane terror which sets me on escaping from the hotel like a 
criminal escaping from prison 1 

These are the questions that torment me, while I am alone 
in the dead of night. My bed becomes a place of unendurable 



The Physicians Opinion. 271 

torture. I rise and dress myself; and wait for the daylight, 
looking through my open window into the street. 

The summer night is short. The grey light of dawn comes 
to me like a deliverance ; the glow of the glorious sunrise 
cheers my soul once more. Why should I wait in the room 
that is still haunted by my horrible doubts of the night 1 I 
take up my travelling-bag ; I leave my letters on the sitting- 
room table ; and I descend the stairs to the house-door. The 
night-porter at the hotel is slumbering in his chair. He wakes 
as I pass him ; and (God help me !) he too looks as if he 
thought I was mad. 

" Going to leave us already, sir ? " he says, looking at the bag 
in my hand. 

Mad or sane, I am ready with my reply. I tell him I am 
going out for a day in the country and to make it a long day 
I must start early. 

The man still stares at me. He asks if he shall find some- 
body to carry my bag. I decline to let anybody be disturbed. 
He inquires if I have any message to leave for my friend. I in- 
form him that I have left written messages upstairs for Sir James 
and the landlord. Upon this he draws the bolts and opens 
the door. To the last he looks at me as if he thought I was 
mad. 

Was he right or wrong 1 Who can answer for himself 1 
How can I tell 1 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 




A LAST LOOK AT GREENWATER BROAD. 

Y spirits rose as I walked through the bright 
empty streets, and breathed the fresh morning 
air. 

Taking my way eastward through the great 
city, I stopped at the first office that I passed, 
and secured my place by the early coach to Ips- 
wich. Thence I travelled with post horses to the market-town 
which was nearest to Green water Broad. A walk of a few 
miles in the cool evening brought me, through well-remem- 
bered by-roads, to our old house. By the last rays of the set- 
ting sun 1 looked at the familiar row of windows in front, and 
saw that the shutters were all closed. Not a living creature 
was visible anywhere. Not even a dog barked, as I rang the 
great bell at the door. The place was deserted ; the house 
was shut up. 

After a long delay, I heard heavy footsteps in the hall. An 
old man opened the door. 

Changed as he was, I remembered him as one of our tenants 
in the bygone time. To his astonishment, I greeted him by his 
name. On his side, he tried hard to recognise me, and evi- 
dently tried in vain. No doubt I was the most sadly changed 



A Last Look at Greenwater Broad. 273 

of the two I was obliged to introduce myself. The poor fel- 
low's withered face brightened slowly and timidly, as if he was 
half incapable, half afraid, of indulging in the unaccustomed 
luxury of a smile. In his confusion, he bade me welcome home 
again, as if the house had been mine ! 

Taking me into the little back room which he inhabited, the 
old man gave me all he had to offer a supper of bacon and 
eggs, and a glass of home-brewed beer. He was evidently 
puzzled to understand me, when I informed him that the only 
object of my visit was to look once more at the familiar scenes 
round my old home. But he willingly placed his services at 
my disposal ; and he engaged to do his best, if I wished it, to 
make me up a bed for the night. 

The house had been closed, and the establishment of servants 
had been dismissed for more than a year past. A passion for 
horse-racing, developed- late in life, had ruined the rich retired 
tradesman who had become our tenant at the time of our family 
troubles. He had gone abroad with his wife, to live on the 
little income that had been saved from the wreck of his fortune ; 
and he had left the house and lands in such a state of neglect 
that no new tenant had thus far been found to take them. My 
old friend, now " past his work," had been put in charge of the 
place. As for Dermody's cottage, it was empty like the house. 
I was at perfect liberty to look over it if I liked. There was 
the key of the door, on the bunch with the others ; and here 
was the old man, with his old hat on his head, ready to ac- 
company me wherever I pleased to go. I declined to trouble 
him to accompany me, or to make me up a bed in the lonely 
house. The night was fine, the moon was rising. I had 
supped ; I had rested. When I had seen what I wanted to see, 
B 



274 The Two Destinies. 

I could easily walk back to the market-town, and sleep at the 
inn. 

Taking the key in my hand, I set forth alone on the way 
through the grounds which led to Dermody's cottage. 

Again I followed the woodland paths, along which I had 
once idled so happily with my little Mary. At every step I 
saw something that reminded me of her. Here was the rustic 
bench, on which we had sat together under the shade of the 
old cedar tree, and vowed to be constant to each other to the 
end of our lives. There was the bright little water-spring, 
from which we drank when we were weary and thirsty in sultry 
summer-days, still bubbling its way downward to the lake as 
cheerily as ever. As I listened to the companionable murmur 
of the stream, I almost expected to see her again, in her simple 
white frock, and straw hat, singing to the music of the rivulet, 
and freshening her nosegay of wild flowers by dipping it in the 
cool water. A few steps farther on, and I reached a clearing 
in the wood, and stood on a little promontory of rising ground, 
which commanded the prettiest view of the Greenwater lake. A 
platform of wood was built out from the bank, to be used for 
bathing by good swimmers, who were not afraid of a plunge 
into deep water. I stood on the platform, and looked round 
me. The trees that fringed the shore on either side murmured 
their sweet sylvan music in the night air ; the moonlight trem- 
bled softly on the rippling water. Away on my right hand, I 
could just see the old wooden shed that once sheltered my boat, 
in the days when Mary went sailing with me, and worked the 
green flag. On my left was the wooden paling that followed 
the curves of the winding creek ; and beyond it roae the brown 
arches of the Decoy for wild fowl, now falling to ruin for want 



A Last Look at Greenwater Broad. 275 

of use. Guided by the radiant moonlight, I could see the very 
spot on which Mary and I had stood to watch the snaring of 
the ducks. Through the hole in the paling, before which the 
decoy-dog had shown himself at Dermody's signal, a water-rat 
now passed, like a little black shadow on the bright ground, 
and was lost in the waters of the lake. Look where I might, 
the happy bygone time looked back in mockery ; and the voices 
of the past came to me with their burden of reproach : See 
what your life was once ! Is your life worth living now ? 

I picked up a stone, and threw it into the lake. I watched 
the circling ripples round the place at which it had sunk. I 
wondered whether a practised swimmer like myself had ever 
tried to commit suicide by drowning, and had been so resolute 
to die that he had resisted the temptation to let his own skill 
keep him from sinking. Something in the lake itself, or some- 
thing in connection with the thought that it had put into my 
mind, revolted me. I turned my back suddenly on the lovely 
view, and took the path through the wood which led to the 
bailiff's cottage. 

Opening the door with my key, I groped my way into the 
well-remembered parlour ; and, unbarring the window-shutters, 
I let in the light of the moon. 

With a heavy heart, I looked round me. The old furniture, 
renewed perhaps in one or two places, asserted its mute claim 
to my recognition in every part of the room. The tender 
moonlight streamed into the corner in which Mary and I used 
to nestle together, while Dame Dermody was at the window 
reading her mystic books. Overshadowed by the obscurity in 
the opposite corner, I discovered the high-backed arm-chair of 
carved oak in which the Sybil of the cottage sat, on the memor- 



The Two Destinies. 



able day when she warned us of our coming separation, and 
gave us her blessing for the last time. Looking next round 
the walls of the room, I recognised old friends wherever my 
eyes happened to rest the gaudily-coloured prints ; the framed 
pictures in fine needlework which we thought wonderful efforts 
of art ; the old circular mirror to which I used to lift Mary 
when she wanted to " see her face in the glass." Wherever 
the moonlight penetrated, there it showed me some familiar 
object that recalled my happiest days. Again, the bygone 
time looked back in mockery. Again, the voices of the past 
came to me with their bnrden of reproach : See what your life 
was once ! Is your life worth living now ? 

I sat down at the window, where I could just discover, here 
and there between the trees, the glimmer of the waters of the 
lake. I thought to myself: "Thus far my mortal journey 
has brought me. Why not end it here ? " 

Who would grieve for me, if my suicide was reported to- 
morrow ? Of all living men, I had perhaps the smallest num- 
ber of friends ; the fewest duties to perform towards them ; 
the least reason to hesitate at leaving a world which had no 
place in it for my ambition, no creature in it for my love. 

Besides, what necessity was there for letting it be known 
that my death was a death of my own seeking ? It could easily 
be left to represent itself as a death by accident. 

On that fine summer night, and after a long day of travel- 
ling, might I not naturally take a bath in the cool water be- 
fore I went to bed ? And practised as I was in the exercise of 
swimming, might it not nevertheless be my misfortune to be 
attacked by cramp? On the lonely shores of Greenwater 
Broad, the cry of a drowning man would bring no help at 



A Last Look at Greenwater Broad. 277 

night : " the fatal " accident would explain itself. There was 
literally but one difficulty in my way the difficulty which had 
already occurred to my mind. Could 1 sufficiently master the 
animal instinct of self-preservation, to deliberately let myself 
sink at the first plunge ? 

The atmosphere in the room felt close and heavy. I went 
out, and walked to and fro now in the shadow, and now in 
the moonlight under the trees before the cottage door. 

Of the moral objections to suicide, not one had any influence 
over me now. I, who had once found it impossible to excuse, 
impossible even to understand, the despair which had driven 
Mrs. Van Brandt to attempt self-destruction I now contem- 
plated with composure the very act which had horrified me 
when I saw it committed by another person ! Well may we 
hesitate to condemn the frailties of our fellow-creatures for 
the one unanswerable reason that we can never feel sure how 
soon similar temptations may not lead us to be guilty of the 
same frailties ourselves. Looking back at the events of that 
night, I can recall but one consideration that stayed my feet 
on the fatal path which led back to the lake. I still doubted 
whether it would be possible for such a swimmer as I was to 
drown himself. This was all that troubled my mind. For the 
rest, my Will was made ; and I had few other affairs which re- 
mained unsettled. No lingering hope was left in me of a re- 
union in the future with Mrs. Van Brandt. She had neve 
written to me again ; I had never, since our last parting, seen 
her again in my dreams. She was doubtless reconciled to her 
life abroad. I forgave her for having forgotten me. My 
thoughts of her, and of others, were the forbearing thoughts 
of a man whose mind was withdrawn already from the world. 



278 The Two Destinies. 

whose views were narrowing fast to the one idea of his own 
death. 

I grew weary of walking up and down. The loneliness of 
the place began to oppress me. The sense of my own indeci- 
sion irritated my nerves. After a long look at the lake, through 
the trees, I came to a positive conclusion at last. I determined 
to try if a good swimmer could drown himself. 




CHAPTER XXXIY. 

A VISION OF THE NIGHT. 

ETUENING to the cottage parlour, I took a chair 
by the window, and opened my pocket-book at a 
blank page. I had certain directions to give to 
my representatives, which might spare them some 
trouble and uncertainty in the event of my death. 
Disguising my last instructions under the common- 
place heading of " Memoranda on my return to London," I 
began to write. 

I had filled one page of the pocket-book, and had just turned 
to the next, when I became conscious of a difficulty in fixing 
my attention on the subject that was before it. I was at once 
reminded of the similar difficulty which I felt, in Shetland, 
when I had tried vainly to arrange the composition of the let- 
ter to my mother which Miss Dunross was to write. By way 
of completing the parallel, my thoughts wandered now, as they 
had wandered then, to my latest remembrances of Mrs. Van 
Brandt. In a minute or two I began to feel once more the 
strange physical sensations which I had first experienced in the 
garden at Mr. Dunross's house. The same mysterious trem- 
bling shuddered through me from head to foot. I looked 
about me again, with no distinct consciousness of what the 



280 The Two Destinies. 

objects were on which my eyes rested. My nerves trembled, 
on that lovely summer night, as if there had been an electric 
disturbance in the atmosphere, and a storm coming. I laid my 
pocket-book and pencil on the table, and rose to go out again 
under the trees. Even the trifling effort to cross the room 
proved to be an effort that was beyond my power. I stood 
rooted to the spot, with my face turned towards the moonlight 
streaming in at the open door. 

An interval passed \ and, as I still looked out through the 
door, I became aware of something moving, far down among 
the trees that fringed the shore of the lake. The first impres- 
sion produced on me was of two grey shadows winding their 
way slowly towards me between the trunks of the trees. By 
fine degrees, the shadows assumed a more and more marked 
outline, until they presented themselves in the likeness of two 
robed figures, one taller than the other. While they glided 
nearer and nearer, their gray obscurity of hue melted away. 
They brightened softly with an inner light of their own, as 
they approached the open space before the door. For the third 
time, I stood in the ghostly Presence of Mrs. Van Brandt and 
with her, holding her hand, I beheld a second apparition never 
before revealed to me, the apparition of her child. 

Hand in hand, shining in their unearthly brightness through 
the bright moonlight itself, the two stood before me. The 
mother's face looked at me once more with the sorrowful and 
pleading eyes which I remembered so well. But the face of 
the child was innocently radiant with an angelic smile. I 
waited, in unutterable expectation, for the word that was to be 
spoken, for the movement that was to come. The movement 
came first. The child released its hold on the mother's hand ; 



A Vision of the Night. 281 

and, floating slowly upward, remained poised in mid air a 
softly-glowing Presence, shining out of the dark background 
of the trees. The mother glided into the room, and stopped 
at the table on which I had laid my pocket-book and pencil, 
when I could no longer write. As before, she took the pen- 
cil, and wrote on the blank page. As before, she beckoned to 
me to step nearer to her. I approached her outstretched hand ; 
and felt once more the mysterious rapture of her touch on my 
bosom ; and heard once more her low melodious tones, re- 
peating the words : " Eemember me. Come to me." Her 
hand dropped from my bosom. The pale light which revealed 
her to me quivered, sank, vanished. She had spoken, she had 
gone. 

I drew to me the open pocket-book. And, this time, I saw 
in the writing of the ghostly hand these words only : 

" FOLLOW THE CHILD." 

I looked out again at the lonely night landscape. 

There, in mid air, shining softly out of the dark background 
of the trees, still hovered the starry apparition of the child. 

Advancing, without conscious will of my own, I crossed the 
threshold of the door. The softly-glowing Vision of the child 
moved away before me among the trees. I followed, like a 
man spell-bound. The apparition, floating slowly onward, led 
me out of the wood and past my old home, back to the lonely 
by-roads along which I had walked from the market-town to 
the house. From time to time, as we two went on our way, 
the bright figure of the child paused, hovering low in the 
cloudless sky. Its radiant face looked down smiling on me : 
it beckoned with its little hand and floated on again, leading 
me as the Star led the Eastern Sages in the olden time. 



282 The Two Destinies. 

I reached the town. The airy figure of the child paused, 
hovering over the house at which I had left my travelling-car- 
riage in the evening. I ordered the horses to be harnessed 
again for another journey. The postilion waited for his fur- 
ther directions. I looked up. The child's hand was pointing 
southwards along the road that led towards London. I gave 
the man his instructions to return to the place at which I had 
hired the carriage. At intervals, as we proceeded, I looked 
out through the window. The bright figure of the child still 
floated on before me, gliding low in the cloudless sky. 
Changing the horses stage by stage, I went on till the night 
ended went on till the sun rose in the eastern heaven. And 
still, whether it was night or whether it was day, the figure 
of the child floated on before me in its changeless and mys- 
tic light. Mile after mile, it still led the way southward till 
we left the country behind us, and passing through the din and 
turmoil of a great city, stopped under the shadow of the ancient 
Tower, within view of the river that runs by it. 

The postilion came to the carriage door, to ask if I had fur- 
ther need of his services. I had called him to stop, when I saw 
the figure of the child pause on its airy course. I looked up- 
ward again. The child's hand pointed towards the river. \ 
paid the postilion and left the carriage. Floating on before 
me, the child led the way to a wharf, crowded with travellers 
and their luggage. A vessel lay alongside the wharf, ready to 
sail. The child led me on board the vessel, and paused again, 
hovering over me in the smoky air. 

I looked up. The child looked back at me with its radiant 
smile ; and pointed eastward down the river towards the dis- 
tant sea. While my eyes were still fixed on the softly-glowing 



A Vision of the Night. 283 

figure, I saw it fade away, upward and upward into the higher 
light, as the lark vanishes upward and upward in the morning 
sky. I was alone again with my earthly fellow-beings left 
with no clue to guide me but the remembrance of the child's 
hand, pointing eastward to the distant sea. 

A sailor was near me, coiling a loosened mooring-rope on 
the deck. I asked him to what port the vessel was bound. The 
man looked at me in surly amazement, and answered : 

" To Rotterdam." 





CHAPTER XXXV. 

BY LAND AND SEA. 

T mattered little to me to what port the vessel was 
bound. Go where I might, I knew that I was on my 
way to Mrs. Van Brandt. She had need of me 
again ; she had claimed me again. Where the vi- 
sionary hand of the child had pointed (abroad or at 
home it mattered nothing), thither I was destined to 
go. When I next set my foot on the land, I should be further 
directed on the journey which lay before me. I believed this 
as firmly as I believed that I had been guided thus far by the 
vision of the child. 

For two nights I had not slept my weariness overpowered 
me. I descended to the cabin, and found an unoccupied corner 
in which I could lay down to rest. When I awoke, it was 
night already : the vessel was at sea. 

I went on deck to breathe the fresh air. Before long, the 
sensation of drowsiness returned ; I slept again, for hours to- 
gether. My friend the physician would no doubt have attri- 
buted this prolonged need of repose to the exhausted condi- 
tion of my brain, excited by delusions which had lasted un- 
interruptedly for many hours together. Let the cause be what 
it might, during the greater part of the voyage I was awake at 



By Land and Sea. 285 

intervals only. The rest of the time I lay like a weary animal, 
lost in sleep. 

When I stepped on shore at Eotterdam, my first proceeding 
was to ask my way to the English consulate. I had but a small 
sum of money left ; and, for all I knew to the contrary, it might 
be well, before I did anything else, to take the necessary mea- 
sures for replenishing my purse. 

I had my travelling-bag with me. On the journey to Green- 
water Broad, I had left it at the inn in the market-town ; and 
the waiter had placed it in the carriage, when I started on my 
return to London. The bag contained my cheque-book, and 
certain letters which assisted me in proving my identity to the 
consul. He kindly gave me the necessary introduction to the 
correspondents at Eotterdam of my bankers in London. 

Having obtained my money, and having purchased certain 
necessaries of which I stood in need, I walked slowly along the 
street \ knowing nothing of what my next proceeding was to 
be, and waiting confidently for the event which was to guide me. 
I had not walked a hundred yards before I noticed the name 
of " Van Brandt," inscribed on the window-blinds of a house 
which appeared to be devoted to mercantile purposes. 

The street door stood open. A second door, on one side of 
the passage, led into the office. I entered the room, and in- 
quired for Mr. Van Brandt. A clerk who spoke English was 
sent for to communicate with me. He told me there were 
three partners of that name in the business, and inquired 
which of them I wished to see. I remembered Van Brandt's 
Christian name, and mentioned it. No such person as " Mr. 
Ernest Van Brandt " was known at the oflice. 

" We are only the branch-house of the firm of Van Brandt 



286 The Two Destinies. 

here," the clerk explained. " The head-office is at Amsterdam. 
They may know where Mr. Ernest Van Brandt is to be found, 
if you inquire there." 

It mattered nothing to me where I went, so long as I was 
on my way to Mrs. Van Brandt. It was too late to travel 
that day ; I slept at an hotel. The night passed quietly and 
uneventfully. The next morning I set forth by the public 
conveyance for Amsterdam. 

Repeating my inquiries at the head-office, on my arrival, I 
was referred to one of the partners in the firm. He spoke 
English perfectly ; and he received me with an appearance of 
interest which I was at a loss to account for at first. 

" Mr. Ernest Van Brandt is well known to me," he said. 
" May I ask if you are a relative or friend of the English lady 
who has been introduced here as his wife ?" 

I answered in the affirmative ; adding, " I am here to give 
any assistance to the lady of which she may stand in need." 

The merchant's next words explained the appearance of in- 
terest with which he had received me. 

" You are most welcome," he said. " You relieve my part- 
ners and myself of a great anxiety. I can only explain what 
I mean by referring for a moment to the business affairs of 
my firm. We have a fishing establishment at the ancient city 
of Enkhuizen, on the shores of the Zuyder-Zee. Mr. Ernest 
Van Brandt had a share in it, at one time, which he afterwards 
sold. Of late years our profits froln this source have been 
diminishing ; and we think of giving up the fishery, unless our 
prospects in that quarter improve after a further trial. In the 
meantime, having a vacant situation in the counting-house at 
Enkhuizen, we thought of Mr. Ernest Van Brandt, and offered 



By Land and Sea. 287 

him the opportunity of renewing liis connection with us in the 
capacity of a clerk. He is related to one of my partners ; but 
I am bound in truth to tell you that he is a very bad man. 
He has rewarded us for our kindness to him by embezzling 
our money ; and he has taken to flight in what direction we 
have not yet discovered. The English lady and her child are 
left deserted at Enkhuizen and until you came here to-day, 
we were quite at a loss to know what to do with them. I 
don't know whether you are already aware of it, sir but the 
lady's position is made doubly distressing by doubts which we 
entertain of her being really Mr. Ernest Van Brandt's wife. 
To our certain knowledge, he was privately married to another 
woman, some years since and we have no evidence whatever 
that the first wife is dead. If we can help you, in any way, to 
assist your unfortunate countrywoman, pray believe that our 
services are at your disposal." 

With what breathless interest I listened to these words, it 
is needless to say. Van Brandt had deserted her ! Surely (as 
my poor mother had said) " she must turn to me now ? " The 
hopes that had abandoned me filled my heart once more ; the 
future which I had so long feared to contemplate, showed 
itself again, bright with the promise of coming happiness, to 
my view. I thanked the good merchant with a fervour that 
surprised him. " Only help me to find my way to Enkhuizen," 
I said ; " and I will answer for the rest." 

" The journey will put you to some expense," the merchant 
replied. " Pardon me if I ask the question bluntly. Have 
you money ? " 

"Plenty of money !" 

" Very good ! The rest will be easy enough. I will place 



288 The Two Destinies. 

you under the care of a countryman of yours, who has been 
employed in our office for many years. The easiest way for 
you, as a stranger, will be to go by sea ; and the Englishman 
will show you where to hire a boat." 

In a few minutes more the clerk and I were on our way to 
the harbour. 

Difficulties which I had not anticipated occurred in finding 
the boat and in engaging a crew. This : done, it was next 
necessary to purchase provisions for the voyage. Thanks to 
the experience of my companion, and to the hearty goodwill 
with which he exerted it, my preparations were completed 
before nightfall. I was able to set sail for my destination on 
the next day. 

The boat had the double advantage, in navigating the 
Zuyder-Zee, of being large, and of drawing very little water. 
The captain's cabin was at the stern ; and the two or three men 
who formed his crew were berthed forward in the bows. The 
whole middle of the boat, partitioned off on the one side and 
on the other from the captain and the crew, was assigned to 
me for my cabin. Under these circumstancas, I had no reason 
to complain of want of space ; the vessel measuring between 
fifty and sixty tons. I had a comfortable bed, a table, and 
chairs. The kitchen was well away from me, in the forward 
part of the boat. At my own request I set forth on the voyage 
without servant or interpreter. I preferred being alone. The 
Dutch captain had been employed, at a former period of his 
life, in the mercantile navy of France ; and we could communi- 
cate, whenever it was necessary or desirable, in the French 
language. 

We left the spires of Amsterdam behind us, and sailed over 



By Land and Sea. 289 

the smooth waters of the river Y on our way to the Zuyder- 
Zee. 

The history of this remarkable sea is a romance in itself. 
In the days when Rome was mistress of the world it had no 
existence. Where the waves now roll, vast tracts of forest 
surrounded a great inland lake, with but one river to serve it 
as an outlet to the sea. Swelled by a succession of tempests, 
the lake overflowed its boundaries ; its furious waters, destroy- 
ing every obstacle in their course, rested only when they reach- 
ed the farthest limits of the land. The great Northern Ocean 
burst its way in, through the gaps of ruin j and, from that 
time, the Zuyder-Zee existed as we know it now. The years 
advanced ; the generations of man succeeded each other ; and on 
the shores of the new ocean there rose great and populous cities, 
rich in commerce, renowned in history. For centuries their 
prosperity lasted, before the next in this mighty series of 
changes ripened and revealed itself, Isolated from the rest of 
the world ; vain of themselves and their good fortune ; careless 
of the march of progress in the nations round them, the in- 
habitants of the Zuyder-Zee cities sank into the fatal torpor of 
a secluded people. The few members of the population who 
still preserved the relics of their old energy emigrated ; while 
the mass left behind witnessed resignedly the diminution of 
their commerce and the decay of their institutions. As the 
years advanced to the nineteenth century, the population was 
reckoned by hundreds, where it had once been numbered by 
thousands. Trade disappeared ; whole streets were left deso. 
late. Harbours once filled with shipping were destroyed by 
the unresisted accumulation of sand. In our own times, the 
decay of these once nourishing cities is so completely beyond 



290 The Two Destinies. 

remedy, that the next great change in contemplation is the 
draining of the now dangerous and useless tract of water, and 
the profitable cultivation of the reclaimed land by generations 
that are still to come. Such, briefly told, is the strange story 
of the Zuyder-Zee. 

As we advanced on our voyage, and left the river, I noticed 
the tawny hue of the sea, caused by sandbanks which colour 
the shallow water and which make the navigation dangerous 
to inexperienced seamen. We found our moorings for the 
night at the fishing-island of Marken a low, lost, desolate- 
looking place, as I saw it under the last gleams of the twilight- 
Here and there, the gabled cottages, perched on hillocks, rose 
black against the dim grey sky. Here and there, a human 
figure appeared at the waterside, standing fixed in contempla- 
tion of the strange boat. And that was all I saw of the island 
of Marken. 

Lying awake in the still night, alone on a strange sea, there 
were moments when I found myself beginning to doubt the 
reality of my own position. 

Was it all a dream ] My thoughts of suicide j my vision of 
the mother and daughter j my journey back to the metropolis, 
led by the apparition of the child ; my voyage to Holland : 
my night anchorage in the unknown sea were these, so to 
gpeak, all pieces of the same morbid mental puzzle, all delusions 
from whieh I might wake at any moment, and find myself re- 
stored to my senses again in the hotel at London ? Bewildered 
by doubts which led me farther and farther from any definite 
conclusion, I left my bed, and went on deck to change the 
scene. It was a still and cloudy night. In the black void 
round me, the island was a blacker shadow yet, and nothing 



By Land and Sea. 291 

more. The one sound that reached my ears was the heavy 
breathing of the captain and his crew, sleeping on either side 
of me. I waited, looking round and round the circle of dark- 
ness in which I stood. No new vision showed itself. When I 
returned again to the cabin, and slumbered at last, no dreams 
came to me. All that was mysterious, all that was marvellous, 
in the later events of my life, seemed to have been left behind 
me in England. Once in Holland, my course had been influenced 
by circumstances which were perfectly natural, by common- 
place discoveries which might have revealed themselves to any 
man in my position. What did this mean 1 Had my gifts as 
a seer of visions departed from me in the new land and among 
the strange people 1 Or had my Destiny led me to the place 
at which the troubles of my mortal pilgrimage were to find 
their end 1 Who could say ? 

Early the next morning we set sail once more. 
Our course was nearly northward. On one side of me was 
the tawny sea, changing under certain conditions of the 
weather to a dull pearl-grey. On the other side, was the flat 
winding coast, composed alternately of yellow sand and bright 
green meadowlands : diversified at intervals by towns and 
villages, whose red-tiled roofs and quaint church steeples rose 
gaily against the clear blue sky. The captain suggested to me 
to visit the famous towns of Edam and Hoorn, but I declined 
to go on shore. My one desire was to reach the ancient city 
in which Mrs. Van Brandt had been left deserted. As we 
altered our course to make for the promontory on which Enk- 
huizen is situated, the wind fell then shifted to another quar- 
ter, and blew with a force which greatly increased the difficul- 
ties of navigation. I still insisted, as long as it was possible to 



292 The Two Destinies. 

do so, on holding on our course. After sunset, the strength of 
the wind abated. The night came without a cloud ; and the 
starry firmament gave us its pale and melancholy light. In an 
hour more the capricious wind shifted back in our favour. 
Towards ten o'clock we sailed into the desolate harbour of 
Enkhuizen. 

The captain and crew, fatigued by their exertions, ate their 
frugal suppers, and went to their beds. In a few minutes, I 
was the only person left awake in the boat. 
I ascended to the deck, and looked about me. 
Our boat was moored to a deserted quay. Excepting a few 
small vessels visible near us, the harbour of this once prospe- 
rous place was a vast solitude of water, varied here and there 
by dreary banks of sand. Looking inland, I saw the lonely 
buildings of the Dead City black, grim, and dreadful, under 
the mysterious starlight. Not a human creature, not even a 
stray animal, was to be seen anywhere. The place might have 
been desolated by a pestilence, so empty and so lifeless did it 
now appear. Little more than a hundred years ago, the re- 
cord of its population reached sixty thousand. The inhabi- 
tants had dwindled to a tenth of that number when I looked 
at Enkhuizen now ! 

I considered with myself what my next course of proceeding 
was to be. 

The chances were certainly against my discovering Mrs. Van 
Brandt if I ventured alone and unguided into the city at night. 
On the other hand, now that I had reached the place in which 
she and her child were living, friendless and deserted, could I 
patiently wait through the weary interval that must elapse be- 
fore the morning came and the town was astir 1 I knew my 






By Land and Sea. 293 

own self-tormenting disposition too well to accept this latter 
alternative. Whatever came of it, I determined to walk 
through Enkhuizen, on the bare chance of passing the office of 
the fishery, and so discovering Mrs. Tan Brandt's address. 

First taking the precaution of locking my cabin-door, I 
stepped from the bulwark of the vessel to the lonely quay, and 
set forth upon my night wanderings through the Dead City. 




CHAPTEE XXXVI. 




UNDER THE WINDOW. 

SET the position of the harbour by my pocket- 
compass, and then followed the course of the first 
street that lay before me. 

On either side, as I advanced, the desolate old 
houses frowned on me. There were no lights in the 
windows, no lamps in the streets. For a quarter of 
an hour at least I penetrated deeper and deeper on my way 
into the city, without encountering a living creature, with only 
the starlight to guide me. Turning by chance into a street 
broader than the rest, I at last saw a moving figure, just visi- 
ble ahead, under the shadows of the houses. I quickened my 
pace, and found myself following a man in the dress of a 
peasant. Hearing my footsteps behind him, he turned and 
looked at me. Discovering that I was a stranger, he lifted a 
thick cudgel that he carried with him, shook it threateningly, 
and called to me in his own language (as I gathered by his 
actions) to stand back. A stranger in Enkhuizen at that time 
of night was evidently reckoned as a robber in the estimation 
of this citizen ! I had learnt on the voyage, from the captain 
of the boat, how to ask my way in Dutch, if I happened to be 
by myself in a strange town ; and I now repeated my lesson, 



Under the Window. 295 

asking my way to the fishing office of Messrs. Van Brandt. 
Either my foreign accent made me unintelligible, or the man's 
suspicions disinclined him to trust me. Again he shook his 
cudgel ; and again he signed to me to stand back. It was use- 
less to persist. I crossed to the opposite side of the way, and 
soon afterwards lost sight of him under the portico of a house. 

Still following the windings of the deserted streets, I reached 
what I at first supposed to be the end of the town. 

Before me, for half a mile or more as well as I could guess, 
rose a tract of meadowland, with sheep dotted over it at inter- 
vals, reposing for the night. I advanced over the grass, and 
observed here and there, where the ground rose a little, some 
mouldering fragments of brick-work. Looking onward, as I 
reached the middle of the meadow, I perceived on its farther 
side, towering gaunt and black in the night, a lofty arch or 
gateway, without walls at its sides, without a neighbouring 
building of any sort visible, far or near. This (as I afterwards 
learnt) was one of the ancient gates of the city. The walls, 
crumbling to ruin, had been destroyed as useless obstacles that 
cumbered the ground. On the waste meadowland round me, 
had once stood the shops of the richest merchants, the palaces 
of the proudest nobles, of North Holland. I was actually 
standing on what had formally been the wealthiest quarter of 
Enkhuizen. And what was left of it now ? A few mounds of 
broken bricks, a pasture-land of sweet-smelling grass, and a 
little flock of sheep sleeping. 

The mere desolation of the view (apart altogether from its 
history) struck me with a feeling of horror. My mind seemed 
to lose its balance, in the dreadful stillness that was round me. 
I felt unutterable forebodings of calamities to come. For the 



296 The Two Destinies. 

first time, I repented having left England. My thoughts 
turned regretfully to the woody shores of Greenwater Broad. 
If I had only held to my resolution, I might have been at rest 
now in the deep waters of the lake. For what had I lived, and 
planned, and travelled since I left Dermody's cottage? Perhaps, 
only to find that I had lost the woman whom I loved now 
that I was in the same town with her ! 

Eegaining the outer rows of houses still left standing, I 
looked about me, intending to return by the street along which 
I had advanced. Just as I thought I had discovered it, I 
noticed another living creature in the solitary city. A man was 
standing at the door of one of the outermost houses, on my 
right hand, looking at me. 

At the risk of meeting with another rough reception, I de- 
termined to make a last effort to discover Mrs. Van Brandt, 
before I returned to the boat. 

Seeing that I was approaching him, the stranger met me 
midway. His dress and manner showed plainly that I had not 
encountered, this time, a person in the lower ranks of life. 
He answered my question civilly in his own language. Seeing 
that I was at a loss to understand what he said, he invited me 
by signs to follow him. 

After walking for a few minutes in a direction which was 
quite new to me, we stopped in a gloomy little square, with a 
plot of neglected garden ground in the middle of it. Point- 
ing to a lower window in one of the houses, in which a light 
dimly appeared, my guide said in Dutch, " Office of Yan 
Brandt, sir " bowed and left me. 

I advanced to the window. It was open ; and it was just 
high enough to be above my head. The light in the room 



Under the Window. 297 

found its way outward through the interstices of closed wooden 
shutters. Still haunted by misgivings of trouble to come, I 
hesitated to announce my arrival precipitately by ringing the 
house-bell. How did I know what new calamity might not 
confront me when the door was opened 1 I waited under the 
window and listened. 

Hardly a minute passed before I heard a woman's voice in 
the room. There was no mistaking the charm of those tones. 
It was the voice of Mrs. Van Brandt. 

" Come, darling ! " she said. " It is very late you ought 
to have been in your bed two hours ago." 

The child's voice answered, " I am not sleepy, Mamma." 

" But, my dear, remember you have been ill. You may be 
ill again, if you keep out of bed so late as this. Only lie 
down, and you will soon fall asleep when I put the candle 
out." 

" You must not put the candle out," the child returned with 
strong emphasis. " My new papa is coming. How is he to 
find his way to us, if you put out the light ? " 

The mother answered sharply, as if the child's strange words 
had irritated her, 

" You are talking nonsense," she said ; " and you must go 
to bed. Mr. Germaine knows nothing about us. Mr. Ger- 
maine is in England." 

I could restrain myself no longer. I called out, under the 
window : 

" Mr. Germaine is here ! " 




CHAPTER XXXVII. 

LOVE AND PRIDE. 

CRY of terror from the room told me that I had 
been heard. For a moment more, nothing happened. 
Then the child's voice reached me, wild and shrill : 
" Open the shutters, Mamma ! I said he was coming ; 
I want to see him ! " 

There was still an interval of hesitation, before 
the mother opened the shutters. She did it at last. I saw 
her darkly at the window, with the light behind her, and the 
child's head just visible above the lower part of the window- 
frame. The quaint little face moved rapidly up and down, as 
if my self-appointed daughter was dancing for joy ! 

" Can I trust my own senses 1 " said Mrs. Van Brandt. " Is 
it really Mr. Germaine 1 " 

" How do you do, new papa ? " cried the child. " Push open 
the big door and come in. I want to kiss you." 

There was a world of difference between the coldly-doubtful 
tone of the mother, and the joyous greeting of the child. Had 
I forced myself too suddenly on Mrs. Van Brandt 3 Like all 
sensitively-organised persons, she possessed the inbred sense of 
self-respect which is pride under another name. Was her pride 
wounded at the bare idea of my seeing her, deserted as well 



Love and Pride. 299 

as deceived abandoned contemptuously, a helpless burden on 
strangers, by the man for whom she had sacrificed and suffered 
so much 1 And that man a thief, flying from the employers 
whom he had cheated ! I pushed! open the heavy oaken door, 
fearing that this might be the true explanation of the change 
which I had already remarked in her. My apprehensions were 
confirmed, when she unlocked the inner door leading from the 
court-yard to the sitting-room, and let me in. 

As I took her by both hands and kissed her, she quickly 
turned her head, so that my lips touched her cheeks only. She 
flushed deeply ; her eyes were on the ground, as she expressed 
in a few formal words her surprise at seeing me. When the 
child flew to my arms, she cried out irritably, " Don't trouble 
Mr. Germaine ! " I took a chair with the little one on my 
knee. Mrs. Van Brandt seated herself at a distance from me. 
" It is needless, I suppose, to ask if you know what has hap- 
pened," she said ; turning pale again as suddenly as she had 
turned red, and keeping her eyes fixed obstinately on the floor. 

Before I could answer, the child burst out gaily with the 
news of her father's disappearance : 

" My other papa has run away ! my other papa has stolen 
money ! it's time I had a new one isn't it 1 " She put her 
arms round my neck. " And now I've got him ! " she cried, 
at the shrillest pitch of her voice. 

The mother looked at us. For a while the proud, sensitive 
woman struggled successfully with herself. But the pang that 
wrung her was not to be endured in silence. With a low cry 
of pain, she hid her face in her hands. Overwhelmed by the 
sense of her own degradation, she was even ashamed to let the 
man who loved her see that she was in tears. 



300 The Two Destinies. 

I took the child off my knee. There was a second door in the 
sitting-room, which happened to be left open. It showed me a 
bedchamber within, and a candle burning on the toilette- 
table. 

" Go in there, and play," I said. " I want to talk to your 
mamma." 

The child pouted : my proposal did not appear to tempt 
her. "Give me something to play with," she said. "Fm 
tired of my toys. Let me see what you have got in your 
pockets." 

Her busy little hands began to search in my coat-pockets. 
I let her take what she pleased, and so bribed her to run away 
into the inner room. As soon as she was out of sight, I ap- 
proached the poor mother, and seated myself by her side. 

" Think of it as I do," I said. " Now that he has forsaken 
you, he has left you free to be mine." 

She lifted her head instantly. 

"Now that he has forsaken me," she answered, " I am more 
unworthy of you than ever ! " 

" Why 1 " I asked. 

" Why ! " she repeated passionately. " Has a woman not 
reached the lowest depths of degradation when she has lived to 
be deserted by a thief ? " 

It was hopeless to attempt to reason with her, in her pre- 
sent frame of mind. I tried to attract her attention to a less 
painful subject, by referring to the strange succession of events 
which had brought me to her for the third time. She stopped 
me wearily at the outset. 

" It seems useless to say once more, what we have said on 
other occasions," she answered. " I understand what has 



Love and Pride. 301 

brought you here. I have appeared to you again in a dream, 
just as I appeared to you twice before." 

"No, "I said. " Not as you appeared to me twice before. 
This time I saw you with the child by your side." 

That reply roused her. She started and looked nervously 
towards the bedchamber door. 

" Don't speak loud ! " she said. "Don't let the child hear 
us ! My dream of you this time has left a painful impression 
on my mind. The child is mixed up in it and I don't like 
that. Then, the place in which I dreamt that I saw you, is 

associated " She paused, leaving the sentence unfinished. 

" I am nervous and wretched to-night," she resumed; "and 
I don't want to speak of it. And yet I should like to know 
whether you really were in that cottage, of all the places in the 
world 1 " 

I was at a loss to understand the embarrassment which 
she appeared to feel in putting her question. There was no- 
thing very wonderful, to my mind, in the discovery that she 
had been in Suffolk, and that she was acquainted with Green- 
water Broad. The lake was known all over the country as a 
favourite resort of pic-nic parties ; and Dermody's pretty cot- 
tage used to be one of the popular attractions of the scene. 
What really surprised me was to see, as I now plainly saw, 
that she had some painful associations with my old home. I 
decided on answering her question in such terms as might en- 
courage her to take me into her confidence. In a moment 
more, I should have told her that my boyhood had been passed 
at Greenwater Broad in a moment more we should have re- 
cognised each other when a trivial interruption suspended 



302 The Two Destinies. 

the words on my lips. The child ran out of the bedchamber 
with a quaintly-shaped key in her hand. 

" What is this 1 " she asked, as she approached me. 

" My key," I answered recognising one of the things which 
she had taken out of my pockets. 

" What does it open ? " 

" The cabin door, on board my boat." 

" Take me to your boat." 

Her mother interposed. A new discussion followed on the 
question of going or not going to bed. By the time the little 
creature had left us again, with permission to play for a few 
minutes longer, the conversation between Mrs. Van Brandt 
and myself had taken a new direction. Speaking now of the 
child's health, we were led naturally to the subject of the 
child's connection with her mother's dream. 

" She had been ill with fever," Mrs. Van Brandt began ; 
" and she was just getting better again on the day when 1 was 
left deserted in this miserable place. Towards evening, she 
had another attack that frightened me dreadfully. She became 
perfectly insensible her little limbs were stiff and cold. There 
js one doctor here who has not yet abandoned the town. Of 
course, I sent for him. He thought her insensibility was 
caused by a sort of cataleptic seizure. At the same time, he 
comforted me by saying that she was in no immediate danger 
of death ; and he left me certain remedies to be given, if 
certain symptoms appeared. 1 took her to bed ; and held her 
to me, with the idea of keeping her warm. Without believing 
in mesmerism, do you think it likely that we might have had 
some influence over each other which may explain what 
followed " 



Love and Pride. 303 

" Quite likely. At the same time, the mesmeric theory (if 
you could believe in it) would carry the explanation farther still. 
Mesmerism would assert, not only that you and the child 
influenced each other, but that in spite of the distance you 
both influenced me. And, in that way, mesmerism would ac- 
count for my vision as the necessary result of a highly-deve- 
loped sympathy between us. Tell me, did you fall asleep with 
the child in your arms ? " 

"Yes. I was completely worn out; and I fell asleep in 
spite of my resolution to watch through the night. In my 
forlorn situation, forsaken in a strange place, with a sick child, 
I dreamed of you again, and I appealed to you again as my one 
protector and friend. The only new thing in the dream was 
that I thought I had the child with me when I approached you, 
and that she put the words into my mind, when I wrote in 
your book. You saw the words, I suppose ? and they vanished, 
no doubt, when I awoke 1 I found my little darling still lying 
like a dead creature in my arms. All through the night, there 
was no change in her. She only recovered her senses at noon 
the next day. Why do you start ? What have I said that sur- 
prises you 1 " 

There was good reason for my feeling startled, and showing 
it. On the day and at the hour when the child had come to 
herself, I had stood on the deck of the vessel, and had seen the 
apparition of her disappear from my view ! 

" Did she say anything," I asked, " when she recovered her 
senses ? " 

" Yes. She, too, had been dreaming dreaming that she 
was in company with You. She said, ' He is coming to see 
us, Mamma ; and I ka.ve been showing him the way.' I asked 



304 The Two Destinies. 

her where she had seen you. She spoke confusedly of more 
places than one. She talked of trees, and a cottage, and a lake. 
Then of fields and hedges and lonely lanes. Then of a carriage 
and horses, and a long white road. Then of crowded streets 
and houses, and a river, and a ship. As to these last objects, 
there is nothing very wonderful in what she said. The houses, 
the river, and the ship which she saw in her dream, she saw in 
the reality when we took her from London to Eotterdam, on 
our way here. But as to the other places, especially the cottage 
and the lake (as she described them), I can only suppose that 
her dream was the reflection of mine. I had been dreaming of 
the cottage and the lake, as I once knew them in years long 
gone by ; and Heaven only knows why I had associated you 
with the scene. Never mind going into that now ! I don't 
know what infatuation it is that makes me trifle in this way 
with old recollections which affect me painfully in my present 
position. We were talking of the child's health let us go 
back to that." 

It was not easy to return to the topic of her child's health. 
She had revived my curiosity on the subject of her associations 
with Greenwater Broad. The little one was still quietly at 
play in the bedchamber. My second opportunity was before 
me. I took it. 

" I won't distress you," I said. " I will only ask leave, 
before we change the subject, to put one question to you about 
the cottage and the lake." 

As the fatality that pursued us willed it, it was her turn 
now to be innocently an obstacle in the way of our discovering 
each other. 

"I can tell you nothing more to-night," she interposed, 



Love and Pride. 305 

rising impatiently. " It is time I put the child to bed and, 
besides, I can't talk of things that distress me. You must wait 
for the time if it ever comes ! when I am calmer and happier 
than I am now." 

She turned to enter the bedchamber. Acting headlong on 
the impulse of the moment, I took her by the hand, and stopped 
her. 

" You have only to choose," I said, " and the calmer and 
happier time is yours, from this moment." 

" Mine 1 " she repeated. " What do you mean 1 " 

" Say the word," I replied, " and you and your child have a 
home and a future before you." 

She looked at me half bewildered, half angry. 

" Do you offer me your protection ? " she asked. 

" I offer you a husband's protection," I answered. " I ask 
you to be my wife." 

She advanced a step nearer to me, with her eyes rivetted on 
my face. 

" You are evidently ignorant of what has really happened," 
she said. "And yet, God knows, the child spoke plainly 
enough ! " 

" The child only told me," I rejoined, " what I had heard 
already, on my way here." 

" All of it ? " 

"All of it.". 

" And you are still willing to marry me 1 " 

" I can imagine no greater happiness than to make you my 
wife." 

" Knowing what you know now ? " j 

" Knowing what I know now, I ask you confidently to give 



306 The Two Destinies. 

me your hand. Whatever claim that man may once have had, 
as the father of your child, he has now forfeited it by his 
infamous desertion of you. In every sense of the word, my 
darling, you are a free woman. We have had sorrow enough 
in our lives. Happiness is at last within our reach. Come to 
me and say Yes." 

I tried to take her in my arms. She drew back as if I had 
frightened her. 

" Never ! " she said firmly. 

I whispered my next words, so that the child in the inner 
room might not hear us. 

" You once said you loved me ! " 

" I do love you ! " 

" As dearly as ever ? " 

" More dearly than ever ! " 

" Kiss me ! " 

She yielded mechanically. She kissed me with cold lips, 
with big tears in her eyes. 

"You don't love me ! " I burst out angrily. " You kiss me 
as if it was a duty. Your lips are cold. Your heart is cold. 
You don't love me ! " 

She looked at me sadly, with a patient smile. 

" One of us must remember the difference between your posi- 
tion and mine," she said. " You are a man of stainless honour, 
who holds an undisputed rank in the world. And what am I ? 
I am the deserted mistress of a thief. One of us must remem- 
ber that. You have generously forgotten it. I must bear it 
in mind. I dare say I am cold. Suffering has that effect on 
me and, I own it, I am suffering now." 

I was too passionately in love with her to feel the sympathy 



Love and Pride. 307 

on which she evidently counted, in saying those words. A 
man can respect a woman's scruples when they appeal to him 
mutely in her looks or in her tears. But the formal expression 
of them in words only irritates or annoys him. 

" Whose fault is it if you suffer ? " I retorted coldly. " I 
ask you to make my life a happy one, and your life a happy 
one. You are a cruelly -wronged woman but you are not a 
degraded woman. You are worthy to be my wife ; and I am 
ready to declare it publicly. Come back with me to England. 
My boat is waiting for you." 

She dropped into a chair ; her hands fell helplessly into her 
lap. 

" How cruel ! " she murmured \ how cruel to tempt me ! " 
She waited a little, and recovered her fatal firmness. " No ! " 
she said, " if I die in doing it, I can still refuse to disgrace 
you. Leave me, Mr. Germaine. You can show me that one 
kindness more. For God's sake, leave me ! " 
I made a last appeal to her tenderness. 
" Do you know what my life is, if I live without you ? " I 
asked. "My mother is dead. There is not a living creature 
left in the world whom I love, but you. And you ask me to 
leave you ! Where am I to go ? what am I to do 1 You talk 
of cruelty ! Is there no cruelty in sacrificing the happiness of 
my life to a miserable scruple of delicacy, to an unreasoning 
fear of the opinion of the world 1 I love you and you love 
me. There is no other consideration worth a straw. Come 
back with me to England ! come back and be my wife ! " 

She dropped on her knees, and taking my hand, put it 
silently to her lips. I tried to raise her. It was useless : she 
steadily resisted me. 



308 The Two Destinies. 

" Does this mean No 1 " I asked. 

" It means," she said, in faint broken tones, "that I prize 
your honour beyond my happiness. If I marry you, your 
career is destroyed by your wife and the day will come when 
you will tell me so. I can suffer I can die but I can not 
face such a prospect as that. Forgive me, and forget me. I 
can say no more ! " 

She let go of my hand, and sank on the floor. The utter 
despair of that action told me, far more eloquently than the 
words which she had just spoken, that her resolution was im- 
movable. She had deliberately separated herself from me 
her own act had parted us for ever. 





CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

THE TWO DESTINIES. 

MADE no movement to leave the room ; I let no 
sign of sorrow escape me. My heart was hardened 
against the woman who had so obstinately rejected 
me. I stood looking down at her with a merci 
less anger, the bare remembrance of which fills 
me at this day with a horror of myself. There is 
but one excuse for me. The shock of that last overthrow of 
the one hope that held me to life was more than my reason 
could endure. On that dreadful night (whatever I may have 
been at other times) I myself believe it I was a maddened 
man. 

I was the first to break the silence. 
"Get up," I said coldly. 

She lifted her face from the floor, and looked at me, doubt, 
ing whether she had heard aright. 

" Put on your hat and cloak," I resumed. " I must ask you 
to go back with me as far as the boat." 

She rose slowly. Her eyes rested on my face with a dull, 
bewildered look. 

" Why am I to go back with you to the boat ? " 



310 The Two Destinies. 

The child heard her. The child ran up to us with her 
little hat in one hand, and the key of the cabin in the other. 

" I am ready ! " she said. " I will open the cabin door." 

Her mother signed to her to go back to the bedchamber. 
She went back as far as the door which led into the courtyard, 
and waited there listening. I turned coldly to Mrs. Van 
Brandt, and answered the question which she had addressed to 
me. 

" You are left," I said, " without the means of getting away 
from this place. In two hours more the tide will be in my 
favour, and I shall sail at once on the return voyage. We part, 
this time never to meet again. Before I go, I am resolved to 
leave you properly provided for. My money is in my travelling- 
bag in the cabin. For that reason, I am obliged to ask you to 
go with me as far as the boat." 

" I thank you gratefully for your kindness," she said. " I 
don't stand in such serious need of help as you suppose." 

" It is useless to attempt to deceive me," I proceeded. " I 
have spoken with the head-partner of the house of Van Brandt, 
at Amsterdam, and I know exactly what your position is. 
Your pride must bend low enough to take from my hands the 
means of subsistence for yourself and your child. If I had 
died in England " 

I stopped. The unexpressed idea in my mind was to tell 
her that she would inherit a legacy under my Will, and that 
she might quite as becomingly take money from me in my 
lifetime as take it from my executors after my death. In fornir 
ing this thought into words, the associations which it called 
naturally into being, revived in me the memory of my con- 
templated suicide in the lake. Mingling with the remem- 



The Two Destinies. 311 

brances thus aroused, there rose in me, unbidden, a Temptation 
so unutterably vile, and yet so irresistible in the state of my 
mind at the moment, that it shook me to the soul. " You 
have nothing to live for, now that she has refused to be yours," 
the fiend in me whispered. " Take your leap into the next 
world and make the woman whom you love take it with 
you !" While I was still looking at her while the last words 
I had spoken to her faltered on my lips the horrible facilities 
for the perpetration of the double crime revealed themselves 
enticingly to my view. My boat was moored in the one part 
of the decaying harbour in which deep water still lay at the 
foot of the quay. I had only to induce her to follow me when 
I stepped on the deck, to seize her in my arms, and to jump 
overboard with her before she could utter a cry for help. My 
drowsy sailors, as I knew by experience, were hard to wake, 
and slow to move even when they were roused at last. We 
should both be drowned before the youngest and the quickest 
of them could get up from his bed and make his way to the 
deck. Yes ! We should both be struck together out of the 
ranks of the living, at one and the same moment ! And why 
not ? She, who had again and again refused to be my wife 
did she deserve that I should leave her free to go back, per- 
haps, for the second time, to Van Brandt ? On the evening 
when I had saved her from the waters of the Scotch river, I 
had made myself master of her fate. She had tried to de- 
stroy herself by drowning she should drown now, in the 
arms of the man who had once thrown himself between her 
and death ! 

Self-abandoned to such atrocious reasoning as this, I stood 



312 The Two Destinies. 

face to face with her, and returned deliberately to my un- 
finished sentence. 

" If I had died in England, you would have been provided 
for by my Will. What you would have taken from me then, 
you may take from me now. Come to the boat." 

A change passed over her face as I spoke ; a vague doubt of 
me began to show itself in her eyes. She drew back a little, 
without making any reply. 

" Come to the boat ! " I reiterated. 

" It is too late." With that answer she looked across the 
room at the child, still waiting by the door. " Come, Elfie ! " 
she said, calling to the little creature by one of her favourite 
nick-names. " Come to bed." 

I too looked at Elfie. Might she not (I asked myself) be 
made the innocent means of forcing her mother to leave the 
house? Trusting to the child's fearless character and her 
eagerness to see the boat, I suddenly opened the door. As I 
had anticipated, she instantly ran out. The second door, lead- 
ing into the square, I had not closed when I entered the court- 
yard. In another moment, Elfie was out in the square, 
triumphing in her freedom. The shrill little voice broke the 
deathlike stillness of the place and hour, calling to me again 
and again to take her to the boat. 

I turned to Mrs. "Van Brandt. The stratagem had suc- 
ceeded. Elfie's mother could hardly refuse to follow when 
Elfie led the way. 

" Will you go with us 1" I asked. " Or must I send the 
money back by the child 1 " 

Her eyes rested on me a moment with a deepening expres- 
sion of distrust then looked away again. She began to turn 



The Two Destinies. 313 

pale. " You are not like yourself to-night, " she said. Without 
a word more, she took her hat and cloak, and went out before 
me into the square. I followed her, closing the doors behind 
me. She made an attempt to induce the child to approach her. 
" Come, darling," she said enticingly, " come and take my 
hand." 

But Elfie was not to be caught : she took to her heels, and 
answered from a safe distance. " No," said the child, " you 
will take me back and put me to bed." She retreated a little 
farther, and held up the key. " I shall go first," she cried, 
" and open the door ! " 

She trotted off in the direction of the harbour, and waited 
for us at the corner of the street. Her mother suddenly 
turned, and looked at me under the light of the stars. 

" Are the sailors on board the boat? " she asked. 

The question startled me. Had she any suspicion of my 
purpose 1 Had my face warned her of lurking danger, if she 
went to the boat ? It was impossible ! The more likely mo- 
tive for her inquiry was to find a new excuse for not accompa- 
nying me to the harbour. If I told her that the men were on 
board, she might say, " Why not employ one of your sailors to 
bring the money to me at the house V I anticipated the sug- 
gestion in making my reply. 

" They may be honest men," 1 said, watching her carefully. 
" But I don't know them well enough to trust them with 
money." 

To my surprise, she watched me just as carefully on her side, 
and deliberately repeated her question. 

" Are the sailors on board the boat ? " 

I thought it wise to yield. I answered, "Yes," and 



314 The Two Destinies. 

paused to see what would follow. My reply seemed to rouse 
her resolution. After a moment's consideration, she turned 
towards the place at which the child was waiting for us. " Let 
us go, as you insist on it," she said quietly. I made no farther 
remark. Side by side, in silence, we followed Elfie on our way 
to the boat. 

Not a human creature passed us in the streets ; not a light 
glimmered on us from the grim black houses. Twice, the child 
stopped, and (still keeping slily out of her mother's reach) ran 
back to me, wondering at my silence. " Why don't you speak ? " 
she asked. " Have you and mamma quarrelled ? " 

I was incapable of answering her. I could think of nothing 
but my contemplated crime. Neither fear nor remorse troubled 
me. Every better instinct, every nobler feeling that I had once 
possessed, seemed to be dead and gone. Not even a thought 
of the child's future troubled my mind. I had no power of 
looking on farther than the fatal leap from the boat : beyond 
that, there was an utter blank. For the time being I can 
only repeat it my moral sense was obscured, my mental facul- 
ties were thrown completely off their balance. The animal part 
of me lived and moved as usual ; the viler animal instincts in 
me plotted and planned and that was all. Nobody, looking 
at me, would have seen anything but a dull quietude in my 
face, an immovable composure in my manner. And yet, no 
madman was ever fitter for restraint, or less responsible morally 
for his own actions, than I was at that moment. 

The night air blew more freshly on our faces. Still led by 
the child, we had passed through the last street we were out 
on the empty open space which was the landward boundary of 



The Two Destinies. 315 

the harbour. In a minute more, we stood on the quay, within 
a step of the gunnel of the boat. 

I noticed a change in the appearance of the harbour since I 
had seen it last. Some fishing boats had come in during my 
absence. They were moored, some immediately astern and 
some immediately ahead of my own vessel. I looked anxiously 
to see if any of the fishermen were on board and stirring. Not 
a living being appeared anywhere. The men were on shore 
with their wives and their families. 

Elfie held out her arms, to be lifted on board my boat. 
Mrs. Van Brandt stepped between us as I stooped to take her 
up. 

" We will wait here," she said, " while you go into the cabin 
and get the money." 

Those words placed it beyond all doubt that she had her sus- 
picions of me suspicions, probably, which led her to fear, not 
for her life, but for her freedom. She might dread being kept 
a prisoner in the boat, and being carried away by me against 
her will. More than this, she could not thus far possibly appre- 
hend. The child saved me the trouble of making any remon- 
strance. She was determined to go with me. " I must see the 
cabin ! " she cried, holding up the key. " I must open the 
door myself ! " 

She twisted herself out of her mother's hands, and ran round 
to the other side of me, I lifted her over the gunnel of the 
boat in an instant. Before I could turn round, her mother 
had followed her, and was standing on the decl?. 

The cabin door, in the position she now occupied, was on 
her left hand. The child was close behind her. I was on her 
right. Before us was the open deck, and the low gunnel of 



316 The Two Destinies. 

the boat overlooking the deep water. In a moment we might 
step across ; in a moment we might take the fatal plunge. The 
bare thought of it brought the mad wickedness in me to its 
climax. I became suddenly incapable of restraining myself. I 
threw my arm round her waist with a loud laugh. " Come ! " 
I said, trying to drag her across the deck. " Come, and look 
at the water ! " 

She released herself, by a sudden effort of strength that 
astonished me. With a faint cry of horror, she turned to take 
the child by the hand and get back to the quay. I placed my- 
self between her and the side of the boat, and cut off her 
retreat in that way. Still laughing, I asked what she was 
frightened about. She drew back, and snatched the key of 
the cabin-door out of the child's hand. The cabin behind her 
was the one place of refuge now left to which she could escape 
from the deck of the boat. In the terror of the moment, she 
never hesitated. She unlocked the door, and hurried down 
the two or three steps which led into the cabin, taking the 
child with her. I followed them ; conscious that I had betrayed 
myself yet still obstinately, stupidly, madly bent on carrying 
out my purpose. " I have only to behave quietly," I thought 
to myself, " and I shall persuade her to go on deck again." 

My lamp was burning as I had left it j my travelling bag 
was on the table. Still holding the child, she stood pale as 
death, waiting for me. Elfie's wondering eyes rested inquir- 
ingly on my face as I approached. She looked half inclined to 
cry : the suddenness of the mother's action had frightened the 
child. I did my best to compose her, before I spoke to her 
mother. I pointed out the different objects which were likely 



The Two Destinies. 317 

to interest her in the cabin. " Go and look at them," I said. 
" Go and amuse yourself, Elfie." 

The child still hesitated. " Are you angry with me ? " she 
asked. 

" No ! no ! " 

" Are you angry with mamma 1 " 

" Certainly not ! " I turned to Mrs. Van Brandt. " Tell 
Elfie if I am angry with you," I said. 

She was perfectly aware, in her critical position, of the 
necessity of humouring me. Between us we succeeded in com- 
posing the child. She turned away to examine in high delight 
the new and strange objects which surrounded her. Mean- 
while, her mother and I stood together, looking at each other 
by the light of the lamp, with an assumed composure which 
hid our true faces like a mask. In that horrible situation, the 
grotesque and the terrible, always together in this strange life 
of ours, came together now. On either side of us the one 
sound that broke the sinister and threatening silence was the 
lumpish snoring of the sleeping captain and crew. 

She was the first to speak. 

" If you wish to give me the money," she said, trying to 
propitiate me in that way, " I am ready to take it now." 

I unlocked my travelling bag. As I looked into it for the 
leather case which held my money, my overpowering desire to 
get her on deck again, my mad impatience to commit the fatal 
act, became once more too strong to be controlled. 

" We shall be cooler on deck," I said. /'Let us take the 
bag up there." 

She showed wonderful courage. I could almost see the cry 
for help rising to her lips. She repressed it ; she had still pre- 



318 The Two Destinies. 

sence of mind enough to foresee what might happen before she 
could rouse the sleeping men. 

" We have a light here to count the money by," she an- 
swered. " I don't feel at all too warm in the cabin. Let us 
stay here a little longer. See how Elfie is amusing herself ! " 

Her eyes rested on me as she spoke. Something in the ex- 
pression of them quieted me for the time. I was able to pause 
and think. I might take her on deck by main force, before 
the men could interfere. But her cries would rouse them ; 
they would hear the splash in the water : and they might be 
quick enough to rescue us. It would be wiser to wait a little, 
and to trust to my cunning to delude her into leaving the cabin 
of her own accord. I put the bag back on the table, and began 
to search for the leather money-case. My hands were strangely 
clumsy and helpless. I could only find the case, after scatter- 
ing half of the contents of the bag on the table. The child 
was near me at the time, and noticed what I was doing. 

" Oh, how awkward you are ! " she burst out in her frankly 
fearless way. " Let me put your bag tidy. Do, please ! " 

I granted the request impatiently. Elfie's restless desire to 
be always doing something (instead of amusing me as usual) 
irritated me now. The interest that I had once felt in the 
charming little creature was all gone. An innocent love was a 
feeling that was stifled in the poisoned atmosphere of my 
mind, that night. 

The money I had with me was mostly composed of notes of 
the Bank of England. I set aside the sum that would prob- 
ably be required to take a traveller back to London ; and I put 
all that remained into the hands of Mrs. Van Brandt. Could 



The Two Destinies. 319 

she still suspect me of concealing a design on her life, after 
that? 

"I can communicate with you in future," I said, " through 
Messrs. Van Brandt, of Amsterdam." 

She took the money mechanically. Her hand trembled j 
her eyes met mine with a piteous look of entreaty. She tried 
to revive my old tenderness for her she made a last appeal to 
my forbearance and consideration. 

" We may part friends," she said, in low trembling tones. 
" And as friends we may meet again, when time has taught 
you to think forgivingly of what has passed between us to- 
night ! " 

She offered me her hand, I looked at her without taking 
it. Her motive was plain. Still suspecting me, she had tried 
her last chance of getting safely on shore ! 

" The less we say of the past, the better," I answered, with 
ironical politeness. " It is getting late. And you will agree 
with me that Elfie ought to be in her bed." I looked round at 
the child, still busy with both hands in my bag, trying to put 
it in order. " Be quick, Elfie ! " I said, " your mamma is going 
away." I opened the cabin door, and offered my arm to Mrs. 
Van Brandt. " This boat is my house, for the time being," I 
resumed. " When ladies take leave of me after a visit, I 
escort them to the deck. Pray take my arm ! " 

She started back. For the second time, she was on the 
point of crying for help and for the second time she kept that 
last desperate alternative in reserve. 

" I haven't seen your cabin yet," she said ; her eyes wild with 
fear, a forced smile on her lips, as she spoke. " There are 



320 The Two Destinies. 

several little things here that interest me. I want another 
minute or two to look at them." 

She turned away to get nearer to the child under pretence 
of looking round the cabin. I stood on guard before the open 
door, watching her. She made a second pretence she nois- 
ily overthrew a chair, as if by accident, and then waited to dis- 
cover whether her trick had succeeded in waking the men. 
The heavy snoring went on ; not a sound of a person moving 
was audible on either side of us. 

" My men are heavy sleepers ! " I said, smiling signifi- 
cantly. "Don't be alarmed! you have not disturbed them. 
Nothing wakes these Dutch sailors when they are once safe in 
port." 

She made no reply. My patience was exhausted. I left 
the door, and advanced towards her. She retreated in speech- 
less terror, passing behind the table, to the end of the cabin. 
I followed her until she had reached the extremity of the room, 
and could get no further. She met the look I fixed on her 
she shrank into a corner and called for help. In the deadly 
terror that possessed her she lost the use of her voice. A low 
hoarse moaning, hardly louder than a whisper, was all that 
passed her lips. Already, in imagination, I stood with her on 
the gunnel, I felt the cold contact of the water when I was 
startled by a cry behind me. I turned round. The cry had 
come from Elfie. She had apparently just discovered some 
new object in the bag ; she was holding it up in admiration, 
high Above her head. " Mamma ! Mamma \ " the child cried 
excitably, " look at this pretty thing ! Oh, do, do, do ask him 
if I may have it ! " 



The Two Destinies. 321 

Her mother ran to her, eager to seize the poorest excuse for 
getting away from me. I followed ; I stretched out my hands 
to seize her. She suddenly turned round on me, a woman 
transformed ! A bright flush was on her face ; an eager wonder 
sparkled in her eyes. Snatching Elfie's coveted object out of 
the child's hand, she held it up before me. I saw it under 
the lamp-light. It was my little forgotten keepsake the 
Green Flag. 

" How came you by this ? " she asked, in breathless anticipa- 
tion of my reply. Not the slightest trace was left in her face 
of the terror that had convulsed it barely a minute since! 
" How came you by this ? " she repeated, seizing me by the 
arm and shaking me, in the ungovernable impatience that 
possessed her. 

My head turned giddy ; my heart beat furiously under the 
conflict of emotions that she had roused in me. My eyes were 
rivetted on the green flag. The words that I wanted to speak 
were words that refused to come to me. I answered mechani- 
cally, " I have had it since I was a boy." 

She dropped her hold on me, and lifted her hands with a 
gesture of ecstatic gratitude. A lovely angelic brightness 
flowed like light from heaven over her face. For one moment, 
she stood enraptured. The next, she clasped me passionately 
to her bosom, and whispered in my ear, " I am Mary Dermody 
I made it for You." 

The shock of discovery, following so closely on all that I 
had suffered before it, was too much for me. I sank, and 
fainted in her arms. 

When I came to myself, I was lying on my bed in the cabin. 
V 



322 The Two Destinies. 

Elfie was playing with the green flag ; and Mary was sitting by 
me with my hand in hers. One long look of love passed 
silently from her eyes to mine from mine to hers. In that 
look, the kindred spirits were united again ; the Two Destinies 
were fulfilled. 

THE END OF THE STORY. 





THE WIFE WRITES, AND CLOSES THE STORY. 

HE Prelude to " The Two Destinies " began with a 

little narrative which you may have forgotten by 

this time. 
The narrative was written by myself a citizen of 

the United States, visiting England with his wife. 

It described a dinner-party, at which we were pre- 
sent, given by Mr. and Mrs. Germaine in celebration of their 
marriage ; and it mentioned the circumstances under which we 
were entrusted with the Story which has just come to an end 
in these pages. Having read the manuscript, it was left to us 
(as you may now remember) to decide whether we should con- 
tinue our friendly intercourse with Mr. and Mrs. Germaine, 
or not. 

At three o'clock p.m. we closed the last leaf of the story. 
Five minutes later I sealed it up in its cover, my wife put her 
bonnet on and there we were, bound straight for Mr. Ger- 
maine's house, when the servant brought a letter into the room 
addressed to my wife. 

She opened it looked at the signature and discovered that 
it was " Mary Germaine." Seeing this, we sat down, side by 
side, to read the letter before we did anything else. 



324 The Two Destinies. 

On reflection, it strikes me that you may do well to read it 
too. Mrs. Germaine is surely, by this time, a person in whom 
you feel some interest. And she is, on that account, as I 
think, the fittest person to close the Story. Here is her 
letter : 

" Dear Madam or, may I say, dear friend ? be prepared, 
if you please, for a little surprise. When you read these lines, 
we shall have left London on our way to the Continent. 

" After you went away last night, my husband decided on 
taking this journey. Seeing how keenly he felt the insult 
offered to me by the ladies whom we had asked to our table, 
I willingly agreed to our sudden departure. When Mr. Ger- 
maine is far away from his false friends, my experience of him 
tells me that he will recover his tranquillity. That is enough 
for me. 

" My little daughter goes with us, of course. Early this 
morning, I drove to the school in the suburbs at which she is 
being educated, and took her away with me. It is needless to 
say that she was delighted at the prospect of travelling. She 
shocked the schoolmistress by waving her hat over her head, 
and crying ' Hooray ! ; like a boy. The good lady was very 
careful to inform me that my daughter could not possibly have 
learnt to cry ' Hooray' in her house. 

" You have probably by this time read the narrative which 
I committed to your care. I hardly dare ask how I stand in 
your estimation now. Is it possible that I might have seen 
you and your good husband, if we had not left London so sud- 
denly ? As things are, I must tell you in writing, what I 



The Wife writes and closes the Story. 325 

should infinitely have preferred saying to you, with your 
friendly hand in mine. 

" Your knowledge of the world has, no doubt, already attri- 
buted the absence of the ladies at our dinner-table to some re- 
port affecting my character. You are quite right. While I 
was taking Elfie away from her school, my husband called on 
one of his friends who dined with us (Mr. Waring), and in- 
sisted on an explanation. Mr. Waring referred him to the 
woman who is known to you, by this time, as Mr. Van Brandt's 
lawful wife. In her intervals of sobriety she possesses some 
musical talent ; Mrs. Waring had met with her at a concert for 
a charity ; and had been interested in the story of her * wrongs, 
as she called them. My name was of course mentioned. I 
was described as ' a cast-off mistress of Van Brandt,' who had 
persuaded Mr. Germaine into disgracing himself by marrying 
her, and becoming the step-father of her child. Mrs. Waring 
thereupon communicated what she had heard to other ladies 
who were her friends. The result you saw for yourselves when 
you dined at our house. 

" I inform you of what has happened, without making any 
comment. Mr. Germaine's narrative has already told you that 
I foresaw the deplorable consequences which might follow our 
marriage, and that I over and over again (God knows at what 
cost of misery to myself) refused to be his wife. It was only 
when my poor little green flag had revealed us to each other, 
that I lost all control over myself. The old time on the banks 
of the lake came back to me ; my heart hungered for its dar- 
ling of happier days ; and I said Yes, when I ought, as you 
may think, to have still said No. Will you take poor old 
Dame Dermody's view of it and believe that the kindred 



326 The Two Destinies. 

spirits, once re-united, could be parted no more ? Or will you. 
take my view, which is simpler still ? I do love him so dearly ; 
and he is so fond of me ! 

" In the meantime, our departure from England seems to be 
the wisest course that we can adopt. As long as this woman 
lives, she will say again of me, what she has said already, when- 
ever she can find the opportunity. My child might hear the 
reports about her mother, and might be injured by them when 
she gets older. We propose to take up our abode, for a time 
at least, in the neighbourhood of Naples. Here, or farther 
away yet, we may hope to live without annoyance, among a 
people whose social law is the law of mercy. Whatever may 
happen, we have always one last consolation to sustain us 
we have love. 

" You talked of travelling on the Continent, when you dined 
with us. If you should wander our way, the English consul 
at Naples is a friend of my husband's, and he will have our 
address. I wonder whether we shall ever meet again 1 It 
does seem hard to charge the misfortunes of my life on me, as 
if they were my faults. 

" Speaking of my misfortunes, I may say before I close this 
letter, that the man to whom I owe them is never likely to 
cross my path again. The Van Brandt's of Amsterdam have 
received certain information that he is now on his way to New 
Zealand. They are determined to prosecute him, if he returns. 
He is little likely to give them the opportunity. 

" The travelling-carriage is at the door I must say good-bye. 
My husband sends to you both his kindest regards and best 
wishes. His manuscript will be quite safe (when you leave 
London) if you send it to his bankers at the address enclosed. 



The Wife writes and closes the Story. 327 

Think of me sometimes and think of me kindly. I appeal 
confidently to your kindness, for I don't forget that you kissed 
me at parting. Your grateful friend (if you will let her be 
your friend), 

" MARY GERMAINE." 



We are rather impulsive people in the United States ; and 
we decide on long journeys by sea or land, without making 
the slightest fuss about it. My wife and I looked at each 
other, when we had read Mrs. Germaine's letter. 

"'London is dull," I remarked and waited to see what came 
of it. 

My wife read my remark the right way directly. 

" Suppose we try Naples 1 " she said. 

That is all. Permit us to wish you good-bye. We are off 
to Naples. 



THE END. 






PR 

4494, 

.f8 



Collins, W. 

The Two Defetinies